I realize that rain is a good thing, but it is certainly something we don’t want to see a lot of in August. This has been a strange August so far and the last few days have been more like early October. I want to spread some good Karma for the weekend by ending my second week of Washington wine reviews with white wines only.
As a wine producing state, Washington has been best known for reds such as Merlot, Syrah and some pretty fantastic blends. However, Washington is also known for pumping out some awesome Riesling, Semillon and Chenin Blanc. I have also discovered some pretty interesting Chardonnay, white blends and of all things, Gruner Veltliner. Washington whites as a whole have taken a foothold in the mainstream and are finding a place in the heart of the consumer. Here are my thoughts on some whites that I tasted last night.
2012 Syncline Gruner Veltliner (Underwood Mountain Vineyards Columbia Gorge, WA) … $20.
Subdued on the nose with notes of pears and apples with a trace of minerals. Apple notes are prominent on the palate with a backdrop of lemon grass and pears. There is a nice core of minerality on this Gruner with just a tiny hit of sweet fruit on the mid-palate. Finishes dry with a fruit skin element that comes across as just a little bitter. Apple skin notes linger for some time. This didn’t seem like any Austrian Gruner I have tasted recently, but I liked it for what it is. (B)
2012 Syncline Grenache Blanc (Boushey Vineyards Yakima Valley, WA) … $24.
Aromas of fig, melon and coconut… Very enticing and, I know this sounds a little weird, but it almost smells thick. Loads of tropical fruits up front…Fig, melon and mangoes. There’s a nice backdrop of minerals. This baby starts drying out on the mid-palate and flows into a fig/citrus finish with a dose of crushed rocks that lingers. There is an interesting apple juice component that sneaks in on the back-end. I’m not a big Grenache Blanc fan, but this one may convert me. (A)
2012 Waitsburg Cellars Pinot Gris Old Vines (Columbia Valley, WA) … $16.
Former wine columnist Paul Gregutt “The Wine Advisor” for the Seattle Times has struck out on his own as a wine maker. Waitsburg Cellars is Paul Gregutt’s and he produces in conjunction with Precept Brands, three whites and a red. I was very interested in trying these wines as I have followed him as a columnist for some time (he still works as a Washington State wine reviewer for The Wine Enthusiast).
The Waitsburg Pinot Gris exhibits aromas of perfumed figs and nuts with a little apple and melon thrown in with a dash of celery on the backside. Creamy on the palate (almost buttery) with notes of honey and apple up front. Silky across the palate but finishes clean with notes of apples, melons, white pepper and honey notes that linger. This is a sweeter style Pinot Gris most of the way, but has a nice dry finish. (B-)
2012 Waitsburg Cellars “Chevray” Old Vines Chenin Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA) … $18.
Aromas of wet wool (this is a good thing for a Chenin), figs and melons with a little cut grass coming though. Very aromatic.Creamy tropical fruit notes come through on the palate with a back-drop of honey and wool. Buttery fig and mango notes show on the mid-palate with a little crushed rock component that flows into the finish. This wine is seamless on the palate and this is right up there with some of the best Chenins I have enjoyed from Washington State. (A)
2012 Waitsburg Cellars “Cheninieres” Old Vines Chenin Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA) … $18.
This one is a little subdued on the nose with notes of wooly citrus and fig backed by traces of minerals. Wool, melon and minerals with a honey edge come through on the front of the palate. There is a herbal component that shows on the mid-palate and follows into the finish. There is a lot of stuff going on with this juice on the finish. Wool, minerals, white pepper, and a little citrus peel. This bottle screams oysters baby! (A-)
My hats off to Paul Gregutt for a good start with his new winery. Also to James Mantone from Syncline for consistently surprising me with his quality whites. I absolutely adore the Grenache Blanc.
There you have it, week two is under my belt for Washington wine reviews in August. Fifty down, fifty to go….Stay tuned as I start on the next fifty Monday. Cheers! Stan The Wine Man