Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rotie Cellars of Walla Walla: Grab 'em!

Seriously, these are wines that if you are fortunate to see on a shelf, you better grab them up. Don't hesitate, especially if you are a fan of the wines from the Rhone region of France. The wines of Rotie Cellars are elusive and wines that I would describe as "small in production, but large on fans." 

When winemaker, Sean Boyd started Rotie Cellars his goal was to start a winery that only produced traditional Rhone-style blends, but of course using grapes grown in Washington State. He wanted to pay homage to the wines that he truly loved - which were dark inky Syrah/Viognier blends of the North and sexy GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre) blends from the South. 

Therefore, Rotie Cellars is dedicated to creating Old World wines from New World grapes.

In fact, the only two wines that are available now, until Spring Release 2012, are the Southern White - 2010 and the Southern Red Blend - 2009. As of this date I know they have a few cases left of the red and may have a few bottles of the white available - - maybe. If not, at least you will keep a watchful eye when it comes time for their new releases this spring. 

Southern White - 2010: 50% Viognier, 30% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne. When you tuck your nose into the glass bowl of this wine you cannot escape the rich perfume of pears, honeysuckle, lilac and violas. Sure - dab a little behind your ears. The nose of the viognier really takes front and center and does not want to be ignored. I had to take a second look at the vintage printed on the label as the  wine was the color of honey - as if it had taken on some age. At first glance I thought it might have been a vintage of at least 5 years old instead of two. The flavors reminded me of being in an orchard, with the notes of pears, peaches and apricots with a hint of acidity. It rounded out with flavors of light honey, vanilla, and wet stone.  This is a wine that is easy to sip, and sip, and ... It's one of those wines that I like to categorize as "swoon worthy!"

The Rousanne and Marsanne is from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The Viognier was grown at Seven Hills East in the Walla Walla AVA.

Southern Red - 2009: This is one of those GSM's I was referring to with 68% Grenache, 16% Syrah & 16% Mourvedre.  Inky, smoky and - - luscious. The nose is earthy with dark dried cherries and a hint of wet stone. Full flavors of more dark cherries, brambleberries and a hint of rhubarb rest on the palate. The flavors rounded out with the acidity of juicy raspberries and lingered with a light sprinkling of spices - nutmeg, black pepper and star anise. Very well balanced and a wine that I could sip on with or without food. A great pairing would be roasted red meat with an accompaniment of mushrooms and roasted carrots or go all vegetarian with a portobello mushroom "burger" on a poppyseed bun. 

The Southern Red is a wine you could put a few years on due to the tannins - - and with the help from the high winds of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. The winds from the Gorge area helps to  increase grape's skin density which assists in creating tannins.

The word on the "wine street" is that the Washington AVA's of Horse Heaven Hills and the Gorge will be the future of world renowned Grenache.

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