Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Secret Crush - Yakima Valley Wine Tasting Event

Attended an invite-only wine tasting event featuring Yakima Valley wineries, held at the Gerding Theater in Portland. My tasting notes for the event follow.

SECRET CRUSH - Gerding Theater, Portland (2/4/2008)


23 wineries from Yakima Valley showed at this event. I only tasted 20, as 3 had already left by the time I got to them.


Last Half of the Tasting Room


Started at the end and worked backwards. Did not taste any white wines. Prosser Wine Company not present.


  • 2005 Wilridge Nebbiolo di Klipsun Klipsun Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Pinot noir with a bite! I like this light Italian red. Strawberry, earth and some pepper. (88 pts.)

  • 2005 Wilridge Syrah Rattlesnake Hills Elephant Mountain - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    WOW! Spicey and firm tannins. Black currant with serious pepper and spice. Nose is incredible! Best wine they have here. (91 pts.)

  • 2002 Wilridge Merlot Klipsun Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Amazing Merlot. Spicy almost like a WA Syrah. Excellent integration, with blackberry, coffee and pepper. Never had a Merlot like this before. (90 pts.)

  • N.V. Wineglass Cellars Capizimo - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Smooth but obviously a mix of varietals and vineyards. Fruit forward. Tasty, but not my style. (82 pts.)

  • 2002 Wineglass Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Elerding Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Amazing Cab. Smooth with nice tannin integration. Other wines from this winery not so smooth. (90 pts.)

  • N.V. Two Mountain Winery Hidden Horse Red Table Wine - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Easy drinking red, but a bit on the jammy side. Surprisingly integrated, but too much fruit for me. Like drinking fruit juice instead of wine... (82 pts.)

  • 2003 Two Mountain Winery Syrah - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Spicy! Amazing terroir, with plenty of spice and heat. Integrated perfectly, so you don't even notice the alcohol. Nice, but needs some time. (89 pts.)

  • 2006 Thurston Wolfe Dr. Wolfe's Family Red - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Young and very very fruity. Not representative of the Yakima Valley, from what I've tasted. Easy drinking, but not alone. Needs pizza or easy-eating beef. (82 pts.)

  • 2006 Thurston Wolfe Zinfandel Howling Wolfe Zephyr Ridge - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Wow! Not a Zin. At all. More spicy Syrah than Zin, IMO. Great flavor, without the jammy fruit of a typical Zin. (92 pts.)

  • 2005 Tefft Cellars Merlot - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Huge tannins for a Merlot. Very dry. Smooth on the palate however, with nice raspberry fruit. (87 pts.)

  • 2001 Terra Blanca Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Terra Blanca Estate - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Intense, big tannins, but smooth and very well integrated. Nose of flowers and cherry, with a bit of wood. Black currant, and rich cherry flavors on the palate with a long long finish of fruit and chocolate. This is good stuff! (92 pts.)

  • 2002 Terra Blanca Syrah - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Rich, luscious, mouth-coating, with deep dark fruit and pepper. Spicy nose, big fruit on the palate and a long finish of chocolate and blackberry. (91 pts.)

  • 2004 Terra Blanca Malbec - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Spicy with lots of fruit. Not a huge Malbec fan, so this one wasn't as special to me. Interesting pairing at tasting event: Peppercorn Chocolate. Yowza! (88 pts.)

  • 2005 Sagelands Merlot Four Corners - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Nice nose of chocolate and spice, raspberry fruit on the palate with a bit of bitterness on the finish. (86 pts.)

  • 2005 Sagelands Cabernet Sauvignon Four Corners Columbia Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Great fruit - cherries and blueberries. Some caramel and/or vanilla in the finish. Smooth drinking. (87 pts.)

  • 2004 Sagelands Malbec - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Decently spicy, smooth tannins, ample fruit. Again, not a fan of Malbec on its own, but an enjoyable wine. (85 pts.)

  • 2005 Milbrandt Merlot Traditions - USA, Washington
    Very sweet, dense Merot. Decent fruit on the palate: blackberry and blueberry are most prevalent. One of the biggest Merlots I've tasted. (87 pts.)

  • 2005 Milbrandt Syrah - USA, Oregon/Washington, Yakima Valley
    Pepper, spice, dark, dark berry, and a hint of coffee and chocolate. Very nice. (88 pts.)

  • 2005 Milbrandt Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Oregon/Washington, Yakima Valley
    Very nice integration of fruit, alcohol, acidity and tannins. Black cherry with a bit of pepper on the nose, with nice cherry flavors attacking the palate. Smooth drinking, with a bit of tannic dryness on the finish. (89 pts.)

  • 2002 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Excellent cab! Nice cherry on the nose, with a hint of spice (cinnamon?). Deep black cherry flavors, and a long finish with a touch of heat. Tannins bounce around the tongue, adding a bit of dryness. (90 pts.)

  • 2003 Kiona Sangiovese - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Sweet red. Smooth, deep flavors of strawberry and violets. (86 pts.)

  • 2003 Kiona Syrah Estate Bottled - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Nice nose of black pepper, coffee and blueberry fruit. Palate is attacked by big peppery berries. Finish is sligtly bitter, with coffee and chocolate. (89 pts.)

  • 2004 Côte Bonneville Carriage House DuBrul Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Nose of black cherry, a hint of spice. Black currant and berry fruit flavors with a smooth finish that is quite long and enjoyable. No heat. (91 pts.)

  • 2003 Côte Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Amazing integration! Everything worked in this cab. The nose was sweet berries with some toffee and spice. Flavors of blackberry, blueberry and chocolate. Incredibly long finish that made me want to take another sip. Spices, coffee and chocolate with just a hint of heat. Lovely! Wine of the Tasting for me. (94 pts.)

  • 2004 Kestrel Merlot - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    BIG Merlot! Flavors of cherries and tobacco, some spiciness that was quite unexpected, and a decent finish with smooth tannins. (86 pts.)

  • 2004 Kestrel Syrah - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    White pepper and chocolate on the nose, with flavors of cola, pepper, and blueberry. Finish was spicy and short, with a bit of heat. Nice wine however, and I wanted more. (87 pts.)

  • 2005 Kestrel Cabernet Franc Winemaker's Select Olsen Estate Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Smooth, nice integration, ample fruit. Nice nose, but too much heat. Fruit is definitely blackberries, with some coffee. (85 pts.)


First Half of the Tasting Room


Had some food and then attacked the A-K section of the tasting. Did not taste any white wines. Barnard Griffin Winery and Chandler Reach Vineyard not present.


  • 2005 Kana Workingman's Red - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Very jammy, too much fruit. Smells like grape Koolaid. Next! (80 pts.)

  • 2005 Kana Dark Star Elerding Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    BIG tannins. Needs serious time in a decanter, or big food to tone down the tannins. Maybe another year or three in the bottle would help too. Nice fruit, but the tannins made me feel like I took a mouthfull of alum. Too young, needs time. (83 pts.)

  • 2005 Kana Syrah Ciel du Cheval - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Young Syrah. Needs more time, but showing nicely already. This could be a great wine in a couple years. Blackberry and pepper with some chocolate on the palate. Already coats the mouth. Tannins were a bit oppressive, but not too bad. Was a freshly opened bottle, so that could have something to do with it. (85 pts.)

  • 2004 Kana Ciel du Cheval Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Nice Bordeaux blend, with raspberry and cherry flavors. Smooth tannins made it very easy to drink. (88 pts.)

  • 2004 Hogue Cellars Merlot Genesis - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Nice wine, with well-integrated tannins, flavors of black cherry and wood, and a semi-long finish of blueberry pie and chocolate. (88 pts.)

  • 2003 Hogue Cellars Syrah Terroir - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Nice and spicy! I love Yakima Valley Syrahs. Pepper and chocolate mix with blueberry, currant and oak. (89 pts.)

  • 2005 Hightower Cellars Merlot - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Coffee and fruit on the nose, with some strawberry, coffee and apple(!) flavors. Finish is decent, and mostly mineral and berry with a touch of alcohol heat. (86 pts.)

  • 2005 Hightower Cellars Murray Cuvée - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Interesting nose of green peppers and fig. Somewhat sweet berries with a hint of spice and a finish that is rather short, and ripe with green. (82 pts.)

  • 2004 Goose Ridge Syrah - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Very spicy. Lots of pepper and earth here. Nice integration with tannins at the edge of drying your mouth. Big black cherry notes, with some chocolate and cola on the finish. (86 pts.)

  • 2003 Goose Ridge Vireo - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Very nice wine! Fruit-forward, but not jammy. I like the black pepper and chocolate hints on the nose. Fruit hits you with blackberry, black currant and blueberry pie. I need to buy a bottle or two of this. (89 pts.)

  • 2004 Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    A big wine that could use some food to tame it. Tannins are well-integrated, but dry the mouth a bit. A hint of spice and chocolate on the nose, with some serious cherry and blackberry fruit. Finish is nice, a bit dry, yet making my mouth water for another taste. (89 pts.)

  • 2004 Fidelitas Optu Columbia Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Finely integrated Bordeaux blend. Tannins are impressively smooth, with no hint of alcohol heat on the nose or finish. Fruit is all cherry. Finish has some wood, I'm thinking cedar or pine. (88 pts.)

  • 2004 Eaton Hill Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Konnowac Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Black currant, fig, a hint of pepper. Smooth tannins, nice integration, decent finish. (85 pts.)

  • 2005 Eaton Hill Winery Cabernet Franc - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Not as nice as their Cab Sauv. Lacking the character and integration. Fruity, but not overly so. Spicy, but again, not overly so. Meh. (82 pts.)

  • 2005 Desert Wind Vineyard RUAH - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope
    This bottle had been open most of the night. Much better than my first try 4 months ago. Decently integrated tannins, backed by strong blackberry and black cherry fruit. (85 pts.)

  • 2005 Desert Wind Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope
    I like this better than the Ruah. Plenty of tannins but not overdrying. A hint of spiciness, with black currant fruit on the palate. Finish is nice, but not very long. (86 pts.)

  • 2005 Desert Wind Vineyard Syrah Desert Wind Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope
    Young. Needs some time to settle down, I think. A bit green, and too much spice to really get a lot of fruit. Maybe a year or two in the bottle will make a difference. (85 pts.)

  • 2006 Chinook Wines Cabernet Franc - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Definitely not my style of wine. Decent fruit, but just not what I look for in a wine. My palate was shot by this point anyway... (81 pts.)

  • N.V. Chinook Wines Red Table Wine - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Yakima Valley
    Light body, smooth drinking red blend. Couldn't get the mix of varietals, but it sure went down easy. This would have been a good wine to end the night on, but I had one more winery... (83 pts.)

  • N.V. Airfield Estates Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Oregon/Washington, Yakima Valley
    The first Non-Vintage Cabernet I've tried. Not bad, but not that good either. Last winery of the night, palate is shot... (80 pts.)

  • 2006 Airfield Estates Syrah Reserve - USA, Oregon/Washington, Yakima Valley
    Just bottled. Obviously needs some time. Decent spice and flavor, but still disjointed. Flavors were not integrated enough to be enjoyable, but this has some promise with time. (83 pts.)


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