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Posts tagged ‘Walla Walla’

2010 Rasa Principia Reserve Syrah – Bottle Notes

Rasa Vineyards is a relatively new winery located in Walla Walla, Washington. Founded in 2007 by brothers Pinto and Billo Naravane, Rasa specializes in Syrah-based wines but has also released Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, Petite Verdot, Grenache and Mourvedre. There is also a second label known as PB Wines. Pinto is the Managing Partner, while Billo is the Winemaker.

Opaque purple in color. 14.4% ABV. Soaring nose of espresso, black fruits and tar. Full bodied with strong acidity. Dark and brooding. Black cherries, grilled meat and olive brine on the palate. Impressive finish. A truly unique interpretation of Washington Syrah. Not exactly in my wheelhouse but I can appreciate what is in my glass. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Rasa is open by appointment. They are also open on Walla Walla Spring Release weekend and Cayuse release weekend. The wines are available via the website, and the mailing list is still open. Rasa is one of the up and coming stars in Washington – don’t miss out.

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2000 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vines – Bottle Notes

Located in the Walla Walla Valley appellation of Washington State, Woodward Canyon Winery was started in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Woodward Canyon produces almost a dozen different wines, and their Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chardonnay are some of the very best examples of those varietals produced in Washington State. I wrote about Rick Small previously in The Washington Wine Hall of Fame.

Purple in color and just fading ever so slightly at the edge of the glass. 14.4% ABV. Sourced from Champoux Vineyard, the wine has a soaring nose of black fruits, tobacco and graphite. Rich and full bodied with great mouthfeel. Black currants, cherries, leather, cinnamon, mint and cassis on the palate. Silky tannins and an exceptionally long finish. Drink over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The reds from Woodward Canyon age as gracefully as anything produced in Washington.

The current vintage is widely available at retail, at the winery and via the mailing list for right around $80. The Artists Series Cabernet is a more affordable but still delicious alternative for about $45.

The winery is also a great first stop as you head into the Walla Walla wine country!

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2009 Sleight of Hand Syrah The Funkadelic – Bottle Notes

Sleight of Hand was founded in 2007 by Jerry and Sandy Solomon, and Trey Busch. The formula at Sleight of Hand is high quality wines from Washington’s most exceptional vineyards. Sleight of Hand produces a full range of red and whites and without question has one of the top few tasting rooms in all of Walla Walla.

Purple in color but maybe just starting to fade to a dark crimson. The ABV checks in at a restrained 13.8%. 100% Syrah from the aptly named Funk Vineyard. Great nose of of minerals, stones, grilled meats and Kalamata olives. Medium body and great acidity. Cherries, olive brine, rose petals and tar on the palate. Exceptionally long finish and silky tannins. Super wine that would give the likes of Cayuse and Reynvaan a run for their money. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The 2011 version is $60 at the winery and I hope to try it when I visit in April.

I wrote about Sleight of Hand previously in New to Washington Wine? Check out Sleight of Hand, Gramercy & Force Majeure.

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1999 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots.

Leonetti is near and dear to me as a wine consumer, and I’ve been on their mailing list for 20 years. Vintages like the ’92 Merlot and ’98 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are included among my most memorable wines.

Crimson in color. 13.7% ABV. 89.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.4% Merlot and 2.1% Petite Verdot. Fruit sourced from Seven Hills, Mill Creek Upland, Pepper Bridge and Windrow Vineyards. Earth, leather, cedar and plums on the nose. Tart cherries, cranberry, currant and tobacco on the palate. The finish is long and sweet. This was my last bottle of a 6 pack and I think this wine should be opened in the near term. Previous bottles showed better and I suspect the wine is on the decline.

My rating: 90 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you should be able to find bottles right around $85.

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1997 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Note

Located in the Walla Walla Valley appellation of Washington State, Woodward Canyon Winery was started in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Woodward Canyon produces almost a dozen different wines, and their Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chardonnay are some of the very best examples of those varietals produced in Washington State.

The fruit for the ’97 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from Champoux and Sagemoor Vineyards. Crimson in color with some bricking on the edge of the glass. 13.9% ABV. Intense aromas of cherry, leather, pencil and menthol. Currants, iron, vanilla, cassis, cherries, tobacco and chocolate on the palate. Full bodied and rich. The finish is long and still somewhat tannic. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

The reds from Woodward Canyon age as gracefully as anything produced in Washington.

My rating: 94 points.

The current vintage is widely available at retail, at the winery and via the mailing list for right around $80. The Artists Series Cabernet is a more affordable but delicious alternative for about $45.

The winery is also a great first stop as you head into the Walla Walla wine country!

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2005 Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

Cailloux was the first vineyard planted by Christophe in 1997.

Crimson in color. 14.1% ABV. Aromas of cherries, smoke and olive. Deep and rich. Cherries, plums, iodine, saline and bacon fat on the palate. The cherry component on this wine is just massive. The finish goes on forever. Slight tannins. Drink over the next 1-3 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!

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2004 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

Armada Vineyard was planted in 2001. At 1815 vines per acre, this 16-acre vineyard, was the highest density planting in the Walla Walla Valley until 2008. Besides the Armada Vineyard Syrah, notable wines include the God Only Knows Grenache and Edith Grenache Rosé.

Decanted for 30 minutes. Ruby red in color. 14.5% ABV. Unmistakably Cayuse. Big, funky and supremely concentrated (but less funky than the other ’04 Cayuse Syrahs). Blueberries, saline and soy sauce on the nose. Olive tapenade, pork rind, cherries, blueberries and iron on the palate. The finish is immense. The purity of fruit is amazing. Perfectly balanced. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 97 points.

The waiting list for the Cayuse mailing list is huge and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail. Either way, current vintages are worth the hunt!

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2003 Leonetti Merlot – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots.

Leonetti is near and dear to me as a wine consumer, and I’ve been on their mailing list for 15 years. Vintages like the ’92 Merlot and ’98 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon are included among my most memorable wines.

82% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Carmenere and 3% Sangiovese. The fruit is sourced from vineyards in both Walla Walla and Columbia Valley. Specifically Mill Creek Upland, Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Leonetti Estate, Dionysus and Connor-Lee vineyards. Ruby red in color. Cherries, smoke and mint on the nose. Pure and rich. Cassis, plums, spice, currants and leather on the palate. Great finish. Drink over the next year or so.

My rating: 92 points.

Leonetti has a full mailing list but the wine is readily available at retail in late-March. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices and you should be able to find bottles right around $75.

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Cayuse 2013 Release Party

Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla, he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes and decided to purchase the land.

Cayuse is open exactly two days per year – in early April for their Spring Release Party. I find it worth the 4 hour trek from Seattle because it is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to taste through almost all of the wines that will be released the following year. In addition, there are some delightful appetizers and if you’re lucky you might be able to chat with Christophe.

Usually when I write up release party notes I try to give impressions and scores on each wine. However, Cayuse was packed and the wines came fast and furious. If you really need scores, I’d say only two of the wines would have scored under 95 points: The Widowmaker Cabernet Sauvignon was more austere than what I usually expect, and the Cailloux Syrah was not showing the purity of fruit that it has in recent vintages.

The God Only Knows Grenache, En Cerise Syrah and Bionic Frog Syrah showed gorgeous, pure fruit in spades but at the same time were really tightly wound. These wines hold a ton of promise and will be great with a couple years in the cellar.

The two best Syrahs on this particular day were the En Chamberlin and Armada. Both showed some of those savory, gamy, funky qualities that make the Cayuse Syrahs one of a kind.

The surprise of the day was The Lovers. A new wine in the Cayuse lineup, it’s made of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah. I’ve never been a huge fan of this blend but The Lovers was the real deal and I will add it to the wish list on my next order.

If you are on the Cayuse mailing list, I urge you to consider making the pilgrimage to Walla Walla for the 2014 event. Unfortunately, if you’re not on the mailing list, the wait is very long, and you need to be well-connected to get a bottle via retail.

This tasting only confirmed my opinion that Cayuse is one of the best wineries on the planet and current vintages are worth the hunt!

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1998 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

The 1998 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning wine in the March installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

Located in the Walla Walla Valley appellation of Washington State, Woodward Canyon Winery was started in 1981 by Rick Small and his wife, Darcey Fugman-Small. Woodward Canyon produces almost a dozen different wines, and their Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chardonnay are some of the very best examples of those varietals produced in Washington State.

The 1998 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from grapes that were planted in the 1970’s. The grapes were harvested entirely from Champoux vineyard, formerly known as Mercer Ranch, along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The very warm growing season of 1998 gave incredibly ripe fruit of great richness and concentration.

The reds from Woodward Canyon age as gracefully as anything produced in Washington.

Bright violet in color. 14.4% ABV. Super ripe with a nose of candied cherries. Leather, tobacco, maraschino cherries, smoke, spice, chocolate, mint and cassis on the palate. The finish is rich, earthy and long. This wine is in a holding pattern – it’s largely unchanged from the bottle I had in the Summer of 2011. I will let my last few bottles cellar for another 3-5 years.

My rating: 93 points.

The wine is widely available at retail, at the winery and via the mailing list. The current vintage of the Old Vines Cabernet can be found for right around $80. The Artists Series Cabernet is a more affordable but delicious alternative for about $45.

The winery is also a great first stop as you head into the Walla Walla wine country!

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to Zinfandel Chronicles updates by email.

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