Piggy-backing on last week’s summer vacation wine theme, the following six selections are drawn from my experiences at Celebrate Walla Walla, a chef/winemaker raft trip called “Wine and Food on the River,” the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and the Auction of Washington Wine picnic hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle. Hurry – some of these will be gone before you know it!
Buty Rediviva of the Stones Syrah 2013
(Walla Walla Valley; $60)
Celebrate Walla Walla isn’t all vineyard tours and winemaker dinners. There are several discussions and educational panel presentations. During Friday’s winemaker panel discussion, Nina Buty poured this Syrah (a blend with 14% Cabernet and 6% Mourvedre), which earned three enthusiastic stars in my notes. Floral with red fruit and funk on the nose, red plums, boysenberry, and raspberry hit the sides and mid palate with spice, dried fruit, and something like beach smoke on the finish.
Maryhill Viognier 2016
(Columbia Valley; $16)
Maryhill wines are so consistently good and reasonably priced that they are no-brainers for parties – I served it for my birthday party during the appetizer course with creamy crab dip and grilled shrimp skewers. This Viognier is not as intensely floral as some can be. Instead, aromas of slightly unripe nectarines, honeysuckle, and tropical melon lead to a round lush palate with zippy lemon and nectarine complimented by a hint of oak influence.
Kontos Cellars Gossamer White 2016
(Columbia Valley; $29)
A bottle or three of this Chardonnay-dominant white blend passed around the raft made for quite the pleasant afternoon during a float trip down the Grande Ronde river in northeastern Oregon. Roussanne and a touch of Orange Muscat give it a fruity floral aroma with pineapple, melon, and mango on the palate. A light oak on the Chardonnay adds body and a nutty whisper to this refreshing and somewhat unusual blend of white varietals. Pair with a great sense of humor for laughs all day.
Penner-Ash Old-Vine Hyland Riesling 2012
I skipped out on family vacation a day early to fly to Portland for the International Pinot Noir Celebration. But, the first item of business was a comparative Riesling tasting in the barrel room at Trisaetum. Winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash compared three vintages of a single vineyard and the just off-dry 2012 was incredible with a tropical nose of pineapple and kumquats followed by ripe pear on the palate. Unfortunately, vintages 2012-2014 are sold out, but the 2015 is currently available.
History 1957 Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
(Yakima Valley; $75)
An hour before the ¡Salud! dinner at Stoller Family Estate, winemaker Melissa Burr met us in the library room and introduced us to her newest project with Stoller – a label called History showcasing wines made from historic vineyards throughout the Pacific Northwest. History 1957 sources some of the oldest planted Cabernet vines in Washington State. This is an elegant example of what a Washington Cab can be with red fruit and rose petals on the nose and an earthy medium-bodied experience on the palate – a Pinot Noir-maker’s Cab.
Woodward Canyon Chardonnay 2014
(Washington State; $44)
I’m not often convinced by Washington Chardonnay, but as I stood in the heat at Chateau Ste. Michelle during the Auction of Washington Wines picnic sipping this Woodward Canyon Chardonnay, I felt compelled to reconsider. Perhaps it is the combination of 40-year old Walla Walla vines and Celilo’s Columbia Gorge fruit along with 20% new French oak barrels, but this Chardonnay is vibrant with hallmark malic fruits like pear and apple along with a peachy kiss. Toasty notes from the oak give it a mellow spicy backbone and it finishes long and silky.