Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tertulia Cellars Viognier - 2005

Ryan Raber, Tertulia Cellars' winemaker, and I were classmates a few years ago at the Viticulture and Enology Center at Walla Walla Community College. I caught up with Ryan again just as he had finished his first crush and was putting the finishing touches on a new winery. Tertulia Cellars emphasizes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Viognier.

At first I couldn't help but notice Ryan's attractive logo on his business card - a circle of people holding hands. The logo on the label gives us an idea about the winery's name. Tertulia is a Spanish word meaning a social gathering of friends. That's what happens when there are great bottles of wine around - friends gather.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to sip on a large glass of Tertulia Cellars Viognier. I sat back and pondered this glass of wine -- if you've been a frequent visitor here, you know Viognier is one of my favorite whites. The nose was pleasant on this particular wine, but I wasn't picking up the usual heady pear aroma that I find in other Viogniers. Instead, the Tertulia had more of a honeysuckle and orange blossom nose. And with the first two sips I couldn't pick up Viognier's typically dominant pear qualities. Instead my tastebuds discovered stone fruit --peaches and apricots -- and even a mineral quality, a little gray rock. The finish was full of citrus.

So what the heck was going on with this Viognier? I knew something else had to have been in the mix -- and I was right! The wine is 23% Roussanne.

During aging, the Viognier and Roussanne each took a rest on the lees, with Ryan stirring the lees weekly for 3 months before blending the juices. This was done in order to increase the mouth feel. I thought there was enough lively acidity going on, which makes for a great food wine. If you read my posts, you will also discover that I am very much into pairing wine with food. The Tertulia Cellars Viognier kept screaming at me to hurry up and roast a chicken, stuffing it with rosemary and garlic. But I didn't even have a chicken salad sandwich on me to keep it quiet! Which reminds me: I would definitely recommend to pack this wine in your next picnic basket. Cheers!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Trout Fishing - Hook up with Deep River Red Wine

What are Flying Trout Wines all about? I noticed some action going on last month while they were moving into their new tasting room. I had been curious, but all my questions were answered once I tasted the wine.

One of my biggest questions was about the "blending" of two complete different wine areas. Now it all makes sense. A student at Whitman College, Ashley Trout started her career in winemaking at the very bottom -- a cellar rat -- but her natural talent proved formidable and soon she found herself as assistant winemaker at Reininger Cellars. Then a serious rock climbing accident kept her from working crush, but not wanting to wait another year for crush in Walla Walla, she headed to Argentina for their crush. There she met the woman destined to become Ashley's assistant winemaker, Claudia Maldonado Cuevas. Now it makes perfect sense how Mendoza, Argentina, became meshed with, of all places, Walla Walla, Washington!

Flying Trout Wines will be involved in annual winemaking ventures in Mendoza from February until May and in Walla Walla during the remainder of the year. Ashley and Claudia will work with grapes that have proven themselves in local soils, including Syrah in Walla Walla and Malbec in Mendoza. In the future, they look to broaden their repertoire by making wines that are still relatively new to our area such as Counoise, Malbec, Sangiovese and Torrontes. Torrontes is a white grape of Argentina that we have not yet seen in our valley. (We have seen a little Counoise, though, from Morrison Lane Vineyards.) Malbec and Sangiovese are more familiar. Flying Trout Wines will remain small, with a goal of producing at least 2,000 cases a year in Mendoza and 2,000 cases a year in Walla Walla.

But the crucial question: How did the wine taste? I didn't know what to expect from Ashley's new blend, to be honest, but I was blown away! At this time, only the 2004 "Deep River Red" available. It is an interesting blend that I had to ponder a while, but, sure enough, it works! It contains 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Syrah, 11% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc. With a combination like that, it's no surprise there's a lot going on with this wine. I enjoyed just sipping it, but I can also definitely see how it would pair nicely with a variety of foods.

First of all, I couldn't get over the nose: Very aromatic - like cherry pie baking, yet very smoky, too, like a cigar humidor. A sip from the glass and I picked up lots of cocoa, coffee, cherries and black brambleberries. This isn't a light wine, but very beefy and rustic. Yet velvety, too, with strong tannins and a lingering finish.

Flying Trout’s tasting room is open by appointment, or you buy wine from their website. You can also find the Deep River Red at Vintage Cellars wine bar in Walla Walla.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Boo-Hoo! Hand a Hankie to Wine X Magazine

Monday, February 19, Decanter magazine released the news that Wine X magazine has kicked the spit bucket.

If you have ever picked up a copy of the magazine or caught it online, you will remember it for "cutting edge" features like Wine Bitch and X-Rated, a creative XXX system of rating wines. I will remember the magazine as creators of the Jelly Belly Wine Bar. An educational tool using Jelly Bellies to create wine flavors like Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet (Cherry + Plum + BlackBerry + Dr. Pepper + Licorice + Bertie Botts Dirt + 1/2 Buttered Toast = Merlot). In fact, I blogged about this clever use of jelly beans in December, 2005.

Former founder and editor, Darryl Roberts had a great idea. The magazine was designed with young adults in mind. It was way to rid of stuffy wine-speak and make wine less intimidating and more interesting to the future Gen-X wine drinkers. At its best, the Santa Rosa, California based magazine sold over 330,000 issues a month. According to Decanter, Roberts leaves us with the impression that if you are involved in the wine industry, you do not care about future wine drinkers and are to blame for his magazine's unhappy-ending. He says the following:

"There's a lot of talk within the wine industry about marketing to young adults...new wines have been created, new wine divisions have been formed by large wine companies, all with the idea of targeting young adults... yet they give us absolutely no support... no interest in young adults...each issue is a struggle...I forgot I was dealing with the wine industry, an industry still stuck in the 80s. They don't want to market wine to young adults. Young adults don't drink wine."

At this time the majority of wine drinkers are probably from the Boomer generation, but a new generation of wine drinkers are not far behind. The Boomers have risen above in spite of memories from their youth of grocery store shelves filled with bottles of Blue Nun, Lancer and the Jug o' Gallo. We were left on our own to develop a taste for sophisticated and well-made wines. Today I can walk down those same grocery store aisles, but now I find bottles of wine with colorful labels of animals, charactures of "empowered" women, celebrities, and "hip" abstract designs with various prices and all designed to encourage purchases by the new wine drinker. Older generations of wine lovers did not have access to wine education via internet, community classes, and an abundance of books and magazines like we have now.

Alas, I have no answer for the demise of this magazine. Maybe the advertising department wasn't agressive enough? Maybe the magazine project was undercapitalized or maybe it lacked proper management? As the youngsters say, "What-evahhhh." In the mean time, while Editor Roberts points the finger at the wine industry, I am reminded of lyrics from an old Beatles song:

Cry baby cry

Cry baby cry

Make your mother sigh

She's old enough to know better

So cry baby cry.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gifford Hirlinger Stateline Red - 2003

Last year I was given a gift of Gifford Hirlinger 2003 Stateline Red from the Walla Walla appellation. An interesting name for a wine. Where did it come from? Winemaker, Mike Berghan chose names, "Gifford Hirlinger" after two Walla Walla pioneers related to him.

Super Bowl Sunday gave me an opportunity to open the bottle and relax with a glass -- umm -- a few glasses. It is Gifford Hirlinger's first release of estate grown wine and only 320 cases were produced. Stateline Red is a table red blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Merlot. The color was a brilliant ruby-red with lots of juicy berry notes going on. I picked up a smack of chocolate dipped strawberries and a touch of spice. The lively acid content makes this wine very food-friendly.

GH Stateline Red is a food wine that can be paired with something simple as a bowl of chili (like I did) or decadent like chocolate truffles. If you are looking for an everyday wine, you know - since the doctor has told us a glass of wine a day is good for our hearts, this makes an excellent and tasty heart medication!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wine and Romance - Happy Valentine's Day!

"Something happens to people who love wine. You really discover a camaraderie. It’s not like coin collecting or something cynical. It’s like sharing love in a glass." --- Paul Smith.

Eric Asimov writes about Smith and his 65,000-bottle wine cellar in today's New York Times.

~February Cooking with Washington Wines~

Ahh - Valentine's Day! When I think of February 14, it makes me think of chocolate. So, I thought it appropriate that my recipe for February should be something chocolatey and gooey.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an impromptu dinner party. A simple party of homemade minestrone soup (made with leftover primerib and stock from the bones) and freshly baked, from scratch, cheese and garlic biscuits. About a half hour before my guests arrived, I realized I needed some sort of dessert. My cupboards were looking a bit lean of dessert ideas and then I remembered a dessert my mother use to make a lot -- Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake! It is an old Betty Crocker stand-by from the 1950-60's era with very simple ingredients. If you have simple baking ingredients, plus cocoa powder, then you can make this dessert in no time. It's a chocolate cake that makes it's own fudge sauce -- like chocolate magic! Best served warm with whipped or ice cream on top. My guests and I enjoyed this rich dessert with Washington Merlots from Woodward Canyon and Forgeron Cellars. Any rich and robust Merlot or even Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc is going to make a perfect pairing with this dessert. Enjoy!


Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped nuts, optional
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Mix the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Pour in the milk and oil and blend. Stir in the nuts, if desired. Pour into an ungreased 9x9x2-inch square pan. Stir the brown sugar and cocoa together and sprinkle over the cake batter. Pour the hot water over the batter.

Place dessert into oven carefully. Bake at 350-degrees F. for 45 minutes. While hot, cut into squares; invert each square onto a dessert plate and spoon sauce over the cake. Enjoy!

Monday, February 12, 2007

What Would Narcissa Think?

When I was a little girl growing up in Walla Walla, almost every spring our grade school would visit the Whitman Mission or "Waiilatpu" as it was sometimes called from the Native Cayuse name for "the place of the rye grass." Our teachers hoped our little craniums would absorb some knowledge of local history, but in truth the chance to breathe fresh country air was enough to get us all running out of our stale classrooms. But back then, we were taught that the Indians were the "bad guys" who killed our beloved Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. I suppose in the 1950 and '60s this was fairly typical: I mean, look at all those John Wayne movies where cowboys were the heroes and the Natives were savages. But times change and knowledge -- and the knowledge of history -- improves. Eventually, I came to understand the clash of cultures. Each side does what they think is the right thing.

In 1836 Marcus Whitman, a Presbyterian elder trained as a physician who also operated a lumber mill, and his wife, Narcissa Prentiss, lived at Waiilatpu on the Walla Walla River near Fort Walla Walla. The missionaries converted a few Indians to Christianity, but the mission served mostly as an important rest stop for pioneers on the Oregon Trail, though Whitman’s refusal to supply alcohol initially made relations with trappers and traders difficult.

Narcissa was one of the first two white women to cross the continent. She also birthed the first child born of white American parents in the Oregon Country. As women, we can admire Narcissa very much, because it was her journey that proved that it was possible for women to cross the country on foot, opening the way for more pioneer women. Converted at a religious revival at the age of 11, Narcissa decided she wanted to become a missionary. History tells us she was a loving woman with a sense of humor, but she was also a firm disciplinarian. She loved nature, and during picnics she would look at various plants and flowers. The Native Americans were kind to her.

But the clash of cultures proved to be too strong, in the end. In the beginning the local Natives thought the missionaries were okay, because they distributed valuable goods. However, the distribution was usually made in the name of Jesus, and eventually, the goods quit coming. A Cayuse tribe member complained "God is stingy." And baptism, as far as the Native Americans were concerned, had not improved their hunting. The missionaries' descriptions of heaven and hell also puzzled the locals -- the visions of hell especially depressed them. A Walla Walla Chief questioned: "Where are these laws from? Are they from God or from the earth?... I think they are from the earth, because, from what I know of white men, they do not honor these laws."

Over the summer and fall of 1847 the Natives began to view Marcus Whitman as an evil shaman using measles to kill them. And Dr. Whitman's measles treatment proved useless, because the Cayuse people lacked any immunity to the disease. On November 29, Dr. Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 12 others at the mission were massacred by members of the the Cayuse and Umatilla tribes.

Our Walla Walla Valley is rich in history, and we have honored many of those who came here before us. I wonder, sometimes, what would Narcissa and her husband think about the new wine community that's sprung up on the land on which they once tried to convert Natives to a life of Christian temperance. Our largest landmark in Walla Walla, a hotel, is the home to visitors from all over the United States who visit Walla Walla to taste and buy our world-famous wines. A local winery carries the doctor's surname, another wine label bears the first name of his wife, and one of our best-known wineries is named for the original owners of this now-prolific wine land - Cayuse. Oh, and the name of the hotel? The Marcus Whitman.

Our intentions are honorable. We intend these names as a tribute. But I still wonder sometimes: what would Narcissa really think?

(Dates and facts from: http://www.nps.gov/archive/whmi)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wine Library TV Finds Walla Walla

Gary from Wine Library TV found us!

Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV started his passion for wine at the age of 17, when he started reading Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. From that point he was hooked. Thirteen years later, Gary brings us Wine Library. February, 2006 was the first launch of this popular wine vidcast. When he first arrived, I think he may not have been taken very seriously, but a year later he is still video-casting and now he boasts a huge following. I appreciate Gary's experience, knowledge, and thinking outside the traditional box. He is animated, exuberant and honest, and he speaks to his audience as if they were sitting across the table drinking a glass of wine with him. We watch him smack his lips, spit, and tip a full glass of wine to the viewer, and he uses words that aren't in the Parker/Spectator dictionary. This week he introduces his viewers to a look at Washington Wines #177. When describing two different vineyard-designated Syrahs from Cayuse Vineyards, he uses words and phrases like "...Skittles rainbow...shocked with a purple paintball in my mouth...Slim Jims..." -- and these are positive descriptions -- he loved the Syrahs! So he may not speak in traditional wine-geek terms, but his use of colorful yet common household terms captures the interest of a wine-newbie.

It is obvious to me that he is not some inexperienced fly-by-nighter wanting to make his mark in the wine Internet business. Gary backs up what he says. Most important, he backs up what he sells (who wants to buy wine on the Internet from someone who cannot taste the difference between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Roussanne?). Gary has visited every major wine region in the world. He is breaking the wine stereotypes and providing his viewers of all ages with a new outlook on wine - minus the intimidation.

I believe this is his second vidcast about Washington (note: the handwritten poster behind him -- "Wash St. is REAL"). Just yesterday I spoke with a couple of fellow wine bloggers about hosting a Wine Blogging Wednesday with the emphasis on Walla Walla wines. The concern was that perhaps not enough wine bloggers having access to Walla Walla wines, let alone knowing they exist. I disagree. Apparently Gary knows about the existence of Walla Walla wines, as five out of the nine Washington wines he discusses in episode #177 are from Walla Walla. It appears someone is drinking Walla Walla wines!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #30 - Strong Syrah Rootstocks in Walla Walla

WBW's assignment no. 30 is New World Syrah. Since the majority of wines I write are from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State, I decided to go back to Syrah's beginning in the Walla Walla Valley.

Syrah didn’t arrive in Washington until the mid-1980s, and the first bottled Syrah in the state, made by Columbia Winery from the Red Willow vineyard planted by winemaker David Lake, wasn’t released until 1988. Syrah's story in Walla Walla begins more recently than that -- in 1995, in fact, when Berle "Rusty" Figgins opened Glen Fiona Winery. Does the Figgins name sound familar? It might. Rusty's brother, Gary, is owner and winemaker of one of Washington State's famous cult wines, Leonetti Cellar. Leonetti is known for their world famous Merlots and Cabernets, but Rusty chose another route to make his mark in Washington wine history. From Walla Walla to Wagga Wagga, Australia, he studied winemaking and viticulture, and along the way he learned to work with the grape called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah in its ancestral home, France's Rhone Valley. Rusty was just the third winemaker in Washington to work with this classic red. Indeed, soon Rusty was called the "Shah of Syrah."

Like a rolling stone, Rusty has moved on from Glen Fiona, but the winery still makes fine Rhone-style wines. The 2000 Glen Fiona Walla Walla Valley Syrah was co-fermented with Viognier, a white-wine grape, in the traditional style of Côte-Rôtie. It's a very aromatic wine, with a blueish-blackish color, smoky undertones, and a hint of licorice and black pepper. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to do a little lab work on some Glen Fiona Syrahs that were still in the barrel: they were inky, almost black, and provided a big mouthful of berries and licorice. From the barrel to bottle, they are still as complex.

What is it that makes eastern Washington, especially the Walla Walla Valley, ideal for Syrah? The Rhône Valley has a similar climate, especially in the hot summer, and a similar amount of sunlight. Christophe Paubert, the Bordeaux-born winemaker at Canoe Ridge Vineyard in Walla Walla, has remarked that quality in red wine begins in the skin, which is profoundly affected by sunlight. “Syrah in France can be floral and spicy, here it is concentrated with nice tannins. I think the best Syrah from here can compete with the best French Syrah,” he told my significant-wine-other Steve, who wrote about Syrah for the Mid-Columbian, an Eastern Washington magazine.

But when grapes ripen too fast from too much sun, the sugar rises without an accompanying increase in the critical flavor components called phenolics, so control of sunlight and heat is critical in a Walla Walla Valley Syrah vineyard. Syrah ripens in cooler temperatures than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but the cold, like sunlight, needs to be watched and controlled as well. Christophe Baron at Cayuse Vineyards, who I've written about previously, likes the rocky terrain south of Walla Walla; the rocks there retain heat in the chilly autumn nights, helping to finish the ripening of his Syrah in the crucial days just prior to harvest and crush. The result is a signature style for Cayuse vineyard-designated Syrahs: huge, rich and powerful.

Another winemaker from abroad attracted to the possibilities of Syrah in Washington is John Duval, who is known for putting Penfold’s "The Grange" Shiraz on the wine map -- this Australian wine is one of the finest red wines in the world. Now Duval has joined with Walla Walla-based Long Shadows Vintners, a team of high-profile winemakers from all over the world who make high-end speciality wines under the leadership of Allen Shoup, former CEO of St. Michelle, and with local winemaking advice from Gilles Nicault. John says he's attracted to the elegance and spicy character of the Washington Syrah grapes, as these qualities remind him of the best Syrah in France. The elegant Syrah he makes for Long Shadows is named "Sequel."

But Long Shadows, Cayuse and Glen Fiona aren't the only Walla Walla wineries making great Syrah these days. I think quite a few of our local winemakers make delicious wine from Syrah -- and it's in a distinctive Washington style, too, which is lush and complex, yet refined at the same time. You won't go wrong with Syrah from any of these Walla Walla wineries: Buty, Forgeron Cellars, Isenhower, L’Ecole, Morrison Lane, Reininger, Rulo or Spring Valley, among others.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Nose Knows

A couple of weeks ago, when I described the exhilarating pear and floral notes I tasted in a Viognier, some friends scoffed. How could I smell pears and flowers in a wine -- unless it had been made with petunias and pear juice? Did I really know what I was talking about?

What about that chocolate I taste in a Merlot? Did the winemaker dump left-over chocolate Easter bunnies into the wine barrels? Oh, and the cat-pee smell in Sauvignon Blanc? Did they wrangle cats into the winery during the Sauvignon Blanc crush? Asparagus and green olives in a Cabernet Franc? You should be making dirty martinis with olive juice, not dirty wine. Wet dog smell? Did you wash your dog in the wine? Band-aid smell? Barn yard smell? Gout de merde! You are crazy, lady!

No, I'm not crazy. I am just a wine geek. A wine geek is a harmless person who swirls her orange juice in the morning, keeps a statue of Thomas Jefferson (the first American Wine Geek) by the wine rack, and runs to the nearest fainting couch with smelling salts when someone claims there is no such thing as terroir.

The facts are this: wine grapes have a tendency to pick up the flavors of the soil and elements in the surrounding environment as they grow in their vineyard. And some wine grapes naturally have chemical compounds similar to those found in the other things they might smell like -- that is, the pear notes in a Viognier come from a similar chemistry in parts of the Viognier grape and pears. Moreover, certain winemaking techniques, such as aging wines in oak barrels, add other traits that can be smelled and tasted in the finished wine. Raw fresh oak wood often has an aroma of vanilla; you'll smell vanilla, too, in certain wines aged in new oak barrels.

In 1995, Ann C. Noble, Emeritus Professor of Enology at the University of California-Davis, created the Wine Aroma Wheel, a pie-chart-looking wheel of aromas used to describe wine. Dr. Noble's years of research focused on the investigation of sensory and chemical factors which can affect perception of flavor. I was fortunate enough to take a course on Wine Sensory Evaluation from Dr. Noble a few years back. Besides the chemical factors, she explained that memories can be triggered by certain smells. That explained to me the nose-memories of my grandmother's kitchen during pie baking when smelling an older Merlot or Sangiovese.

Now, about that cat-pee. While New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc may have notes of grapefruit and kiwi, there may also be hints of boxwood bush -- a pungent mix of asparagus, green bean and bell pepper, which, all together, can smell like cat-pee. In fact, it's a specific chemical called pyrazine that's responsible for the feline toilette notes. This compound dissipates in the sun as the fruit ripens, so if the grapes are picked when they aren't fully ripe (which is desirable for certain wines and in certain conditions), the more pungent the resulting Sauvignon Blanc will be. Pyrazines are also found in green peppers, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It is that compound that is responsible for the herbacious, green notes found in some red wines.

The older Rieslings from Germany often carry a kerosene nose that makes some wine aficionados swoon and others head for the spit bucket. These white wines with diesel or petrol-like fumes all have chemical compounds called terpenes, which are concentrated in the skins of the Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapes, especially, and can give off powerful smells of oil, gas, turpentine, citronella, and geranium. Winemakers usually try to mute these odors, but in some wines -- and wine markets -- the odors are actually desirable.

The chocolate and cocoa aromas and flavors that are often noted in red wines come from elements in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Cigar or cedar box characteristics in Cabernet Sauvignon comes from natural compounds formed when Cabernet Sauvignon meets yeast and the wood in oak barrels. Even a non-smoking wine lover finds this a complex yet desirable quality in high-end red wines. Vanilla tones in red or white wines can come from the oak barrels where the natural sugars from the wood are brought forth from being charred inside.

How about that creamy mouth feel that you get from a Chardonnay? Sometimes aromas of buttered popcorn or the taste of butterscotch or custard will awake on your tongue after a sip of Chardonnay. This is caused from malolactic fermentation. MLF is a natural process by which a young wine’s malic acid (for any non-wine-geeks among you: think green apples, which are full of malic acid ) is converted into softer lactic acid (think plain yogurt). Winemakers have learned how to control this process. Some may avoid the MLF process in order to emphasize a crisp tartness in their wine, while others want the creamy, buttery layers. The byproduct that MLF produces is called diacetyl. In fact, this compound can be found in the buttery yellow substance that is squirted on your movietime popcorn.

A fine Bordeaux might have notes of lavender if there are lavender fields surrounding the vineyard. A California wine might hint at the menthol smell of eucalyptus if the vineyard is surround by or near a grove of eucalyptus trees. In some Washington wines I smell or taste a bit of sage, which is not surprising considering how many Washington vineyards are bordered by sagebrush desert country.

This lesson in wine flavor chemistry is just the beginning. I haven't even begun to get on my soap box, speaking through my megaphone about the faulty chemical aromas found in wines. But that my non-wine-geek friends ...is another blog article.

(By the way, it is linalool that is found in Viognier. The same compound can be found in petunias and in your morning bowl of Tutti-Fruitti Loopies.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

WB: Primarius - Grenache

It’s not often that you see a Grenache with a Walla Walla winery label and when you do it needs discovering. Grenache is the leading grape grown in the southern Rhone region of France and eventually found its way into Washington State.

Waterbrook Winery introduced a new label called Primarius - lingua Latina for "the most distinguished." The WB Primarius label will only be available through Waterbrook’s downtown tasting room and will be a limited production of 350 cases or less.

The 2005 Grenache fruit for this most distinguished label came from one of the newest Washington State appellations, Wahluke Slope located in the Yakima area. The Stone Tree Vineyard is home to 450 acres Grenache clones planted in sandy loam. Historically, this land has been a desert.

Released last month, only 48 cases were made of this lovely cranberry colored liquid. Aged in 100% one-year-old oak barrels, the deep earthy undertones did not overpower the heady qualities of raspberries and vanilla. A very aromatic wine that almost over powered the taste, but when the wine settled on my tongue it was full in raspberry flavor and finished with bites of black pepper. I really enjoyed this wine and didn’t want to share (thank you Rachel for your generosity of sharing this wine), but remembered my manners.