Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday #61: The Serendipitous SuLei Cellars Rousanne

Today is the 61st Wine Blogging Wednesday. And today we go back to the beginning of this project as it's being hosted by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours who is the founder of WBW. This month Lenn has challenged us to write about a wine based on a tasting done at a winery. And “extra points” are given if we do the tasting with the winemaker. I am claiming my extra points. What do I win, Lenn?

When you live in a small wine oriented community like Walla Walla, there is bound to be serendipitous events that will lead you to a great wine.

It all started when I received an email from Tanya and Elaine, owners of a new winery, SuLei (Soo-Lay) Cellars in Walla Walla. I had just returned from the Wine Bloggers Conference in California and was playing catch-up with my emails and deadlines. The evening I had planned to tackle this project, I had also made plans to attend a wine industry event. While at the event and visiting about, I was chatting with friend Kate Bray Morrison, who commented there were a couple of people at the event she thought I should meet. Well, to make a long story short, it was Tanya and Elaine of SuLei Cellars!

Six days later, I dined at the ‘Burg Cottage (Waitsburg) of Paul and Karen Stanton-Gregutt. If you are a fan of Washington wines and live in Washington State and do not know who Paul Gregutt is, then you must be drinking your wine under a rock. Paul writes Sunday’s "Wine Adviser" column in the Seattle Times Pacific magazine and a monthly wine column in Spokane Spokesman-Review, as well as the author of the critically acclaimed book – “Washington Wines & Wineries – The Essential Guide.” The focus of the meal was Karen’s “Herbal Chicken Platter” - grilled slices of tender chicken breasts. Each piece of chicken had its own savory mixture of fresh herbs that Karen had picked from her beautiful, and very fragrant, herb and antique rose garden minutes before.

Paul brought to the table a bottle of white wine to pair with the meal. And with the label concealed by the wine chiller, he asked us to figure out what type of white grape it was. After a few wrong guesses - - it was the 2008 Roussanne from SuLei Cellars. I exclaimed that I had an appointment to visit SuLei for a private tasting! Two days later, I once again had the opportunity to taste the SuLei Cellars Roussanne, but this time with owners, Tanya Woodley, winemaker and Elaine Jomwe, Operations Manager.

SuLei Cellars Roussanne 2008 is a very friendly white wine that was far too easy for me to consume. Typically, my palate doesn’t lend itself to Roussanne, like it does to Viognier, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, but when Tanya offered me a second glass I didn’t turn it down (nor did I turn down a second glass of the SuLei Roussanne at the Gregutt Cottage).

This Roussanne is produced as single vineyard wine from the Jon Cockburn Ranch Vineyard in the Walla Walla AVA. I definitely thought the wine carried an influence from the old apple orchards in the area many moons ago. The nose showed floral notes of orange blossom and honey suckle. My palate found flavors of ripe peaches and also found the wine to be dominant with notes of crisp apples. Old and new barrels were used leaving just enough oak to round out the acids, while still leaving enough acidity to enhance food pairings.

I would recommend this wine to be paired, of course with a plate of imported cheeses. Also a complimentary pairing with a buttery seasoned seafood entree or a seafood salad with a variety of crisp lettuce or even a fruit salad. And of course - - Karen Stanton-Gregutt’s "Herbal Chicken Platter."

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