Lately my motto has been, "So many Walla Walla wineries and so little time - - and only one of me." And with the best intentions, I still didn't make it to all of the wineries on my list.
When I go wine tasting I like having another wine-geek with me to bounce off tasting notes and talk about the politics of wine and styles of winemaking. Jason Baggett, second-year student at the Walla Walla Institute for Enology and Viticulture and assistant at Mannina Cellars ventured out with me on the Saturday morning of Fall Release 09.
Our first stop was at Castillo de Feliciana Castillo Vineyard and Winery. We wanted to check out the beautiful new facility and of course taste the wines of Ryan Raber, former
winemaker at Tertulia Cellars. Our timing was perfect as Ryan poured our wines! We were impressed by the Tempranillo and
the "Miercoles" - the "Wednesday Wine" (Miercoles is Spanish for Wednesday). Miercoles is a very tasty everyday blend of 60% Cabernet Sauuvignon and 40% Syrah. And the price is great at $19.00. The facility is gorgeous and the view - - spectacular!
The next stop was three wineries in one! I wanted to stop by Gramercy Cellars and say hello to Greg and Pam Harrington under their "Big Top Circus Tent." We tasted through their beautiful wines that recently received high 90+ points from Dr. Jay Miller of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. Oh yes, these points were very well deserved! The Gramercy Inigo Montoya Tempranillo was swoon-worthy as well as the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. I immediately picked up an herbal quality in the Cab that I really enjoyed. The wine was very viscous and rich. And of course, the real star of the show was the Gramercy John Lewis Syrah that received 96 points. I liked the way Jason described the wine - - "A Monster!"
We walked over to Waters Winery. A beautiful facility and certainly their share of beautifully made wines, too. The "Interlude," a Bordeaux-style blend made my palate happy as well as the Waters Cabernet Sauvignon - 2006 really stood out for me. It was a well balanced wine, yet complex with rich black fruit and cigar box notes. We met with Christa Hilt, Marketing Director who was a delightful hostess and invited Jason and I to their very stunning VIP room where we also met with Jamie Brown, winemaker for Waters. In the VIP room held one very special wine - 21 Grams.
21 Grams is a collaboration between Waters Winery and Gramercy Cellars. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from world-class vineyards in Washington State and only 100 cases are made. It was aromatic, silky and very elegant. Jason and I both noted how easy it was on the palate - just like velvet.
On we went into Oregon border to visit the winery of Otis Kenyon. We chose not to go to their downtown Walla Walla tasting room and to visit their winery instead as it is rare when it is open to the public. They also had a "Big Top Circus Tent" set up. Thank goodness as it was getting windy by then. The Otis Kenyon "Matchless" Red is a very tasty "Tuesday" wine (actually any day!) produced with fruit sourced from Walla Walla. The Carmenere - 2007 didn't have any green vegetal notes in it that you often find in Carmenere. Instead it showed a lot of pink and black peppercorns. If you love Carmenere like I do, then the Otis Kenyon Carmenere is the one!
Robison Ranch Cellars partners, Brad Riordan and Jim Robison really know how to throw a party and indeed what a fine party it was at the ranch with wine, food and even door prizes! Brad is in charge of the wine and Jim is in charge of the food - and what a spread Jim produced. Smoked salmon, smoked pork tenderloin, proscuitto and selection of imported cheeses to name a few of the delicious noshes. It was a feast - and the wine from the Walla Walla Valley vineyards was indeed fit for a feast. The Robison Ranch Cellars Rosé - 2008 is a blend of Walla Walla grown Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot and Viognier and it paired quite perfect with the smoked salmon, and other smoked meats that Jim Robison prepared (a reminder of how well the wine will pair with the Thanksgiving turkey). I really thought the Merlot was a shining star - it reminded me of a blackberry pie with a brown sugar finish and my how it lingered. Oh, and guess who won a door prize? A great ending to a great day of tasting wines and meeting up with friends at the various wineries.
After being a responsible wine taster and spitting all of the delicious wine all day, I went home, settled in for the evening, put my purple fuzzy slippers on and poured myself a glass of wine.