Thursday, May 30, 2013

One of a Kind: Waitsburg Cellars

He's a wine writer, critic, author, innkeeper, musician, and all around Renaissance man, so it shouldn't have surprised anyone when Paul Gregutt announced a new milestone and title in his life, creator of his own line of wines. The wines were first previewed and released in March.

Waitsburg Cellars is a winemaking project between Paul and the largest privately owned wine company in the Northwest, Precept Wines.  Paul has been given access to their vineyards, winemakers and their facility.  The goal is to create affordable, yet interesting wines that will showcase the  strength of our vines in Washington State. Paul will be hands-on with the wines.

First off, you cannot help but to notice the lovely, and very personable, black and white wine label. The goal of Paul and Karen Gregutt's label was to create their own Old World wine label, like those from days past of family crests and clan shields. Each symbol on the label represents the unification of their lives, from the music notes and book which focuses on their music, film, and book writing accomplishments to the rose symbol which represents Mrs. G's beautiful gardens of heritage roses.  Of course, the grape vines and wheat shafts speaks for itself, especially if you are familiar with the area.
Contrary to what is usual and almost traditional here in the Walla Walla Valley, it's welcoming to see a line-up of wines where four of the five wines are white varietals and only one red - - and an unusual red blend, at that.  Paul refers to the line-up of white wines as "The Aromatics" and has chosen not to write his own wine tasting notes. Instead we are to "fill in the blanks."  Here's my filler list.

Waitsburg Cellars “Cheninières” Old Vine Chenin Blanc - 2012, sourced from the Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley, yet very reminiscent and cleverly named after the dry Savennières from the Anjou region or "Middle" Loire Valley in France. This old vine wine has deep aromas of a flowering orchard. On the palate, summer stone fruit of ripe peaches and almost-ripe apricots with a lingering finish of citrus shining through. Pair with seafood salads - - and make sure that sea food is grilled to bring out a hint of the two-year old oak.

Waitsburg Cellars “Chevray” Old Vine Chenin Blanc - 2012
It is rare to see a Washington State Chenin Blanc on the shelves, but I am oh-so happy to see not just one, but two! The Chevray is very traditional of the Old World Vouvrays from Loire, but also sourced from the Snipes Mountain. The honey gold color brings forth aromas of Asian pears and peaches. On the palate, more peaches, a bit of honey and a finish of wet stones. Something tells me that this wine will also have that wonderful rich aging ability that seems to be a quality of many well-made Chenin Blancs. A wonderful picnic wine with fruit, cheese and a loaf of bread.  

Waitsburg Cellars Old Vine Pinot Gris - 2012, sourced from the Yakima Valley. Easy drinking! Aromas of an apple farm and hints of rain.  Honeydew, muskmelon, pears and apple, with just a hint of citrus are on the palate. This is a summer porch sippin' wine, but easy to pair with some favorite summer menus, as well.  

Waitsburg Cellars Old Vine Riesling - 2012, Columbia Valley or Mosel? Aromas of orchards and rose gardens. On the palate a nice balance of sugar and acidity with flavor notes of peaches, Asian pears, and a touch of wet slate. Clean. Crisp. Something tells me that this wine will also age quite nicely, perhaps eventually taking on those old Riesling notes of petrol. I would take advantage of this wine and use it to enhance any of the flavors and spices of Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Waitsburg Cellars “Three”  - 2011, a unique, but elegant red blend from three winemakers, three vineyards, and three grapes - - a blend of 64% Merlot, 20% Malbec and 16% Mourvedre. I am happy to see that Merlot takes up the larger percentage, as there is nothing like a Merlot from Washington State. It's almost difficult to describe this wine as it is very complex, yet there's no conflict as each grape seems to meld and enhance each other. Violets and roses on the nose with a hint of patchouli. A palate of bramble berries, cherries, currants are mingled with cocoa, espresso, rich dark earth, a hint of Grand Marnier and lingering spicy finish of vanilla and cracked black pepper.  The food pairing with this wine is almost endless.

Last year when the majority of these grapes were harvested, we saw more than once, a blue moon, so the moon on the Waitsburg Cellars label is very symbolic and with hopes we will see a few more blue moons with every harvest. And last but not least, the "One of a Kind" on the banner is the official slogan for the little community of Waitsburg, in Walla Walla County, where Paul and Karen has made their forever home. The town, like the wines, are every bit - - one of a kind.  

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