Saturday, October 23, 2010

Woodinville Wine Excursion

What was supposed to be a quick afternoon stop for the grand opening of Obelisco Estate's new Woodinville Warehouse District tasting room, quickly turned into a full "excursion" and resulted in some some epic wine tasting! Read on about each of our stops.

Grand Reve Vintners
Although we had tried to hit this tasting room twice before, we either couldn't find them, or they were closed. I'm VERY happy they were open this day, because their excellent wines set the stage for a wonderful day! I'm also happy that I was able to previously order their sold out 2007 Collaboration Series III Syrah. These are amazing wines, built to age for years, and I highly recommend them all. The concept is using the best grapes (Red Mountain, natch), grown by master vineyard manager Ryan Johnson (Ciel du Cheval, Cara Mia, Galitzine, Grand Ciel, etc...) and then having some of the top wine makers in the region craft an individual wine, hence the "Collaboration Series" name. Collaboration Series I is a Bordeaux blend made by Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. Collaboration Series II is a Southern Rhône blend made by Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery. Collaboration Series III is a Syrah made by Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. Collaboration Series IV is another Bordeaux blend made by Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei Winery. Collaboration Series V is a Grenache made by Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. Collaboration Series VI is another Southern Rhône blend made by James Mantone of Syncline Wines. They also have a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which we didn't get to taste, and are just about to release a delicious new lower cost, tasting room-only wine called "Petrichor", which is a Syrah-Cabernet blend.

  • 2005 Grand Reve Vintners Collaboration Series I Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Rich, full-bodies, amazing fruit, with some nice earthiness in the mid-palate. Sweet fruity finish, with just a touch of oaky vanilla. A very well-balanced, well-made wine. (93 pts.)

  • 2006 Grand Reve Vintners Syrah Collaboration Series III Ciel du Cheval Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Wow. This is the type of Syrah I love! Very structured, with some nice tannins on the finish. Great blackberry fruit, smokey, with some black pepper. (94 pts.)

  • 2006 Grand Reve Vintners Petrichor - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    This is a pre-released Cabernet-Syrah blend, from the "second label" of Grand Reve. “Petrichor” describes the smell that results from rain hitting stone, and comes from “petri”, meaning “rock”, and “ichor”, the ethereal colorless fluid that was said to flow in the veins of Greek gods. An apt name for this elixir. Very rich, with nice structure, and amazing fruit on the attack. Mid-palate is full bodied and full of fruit, with a long sweet finish. (91 pts.)

Obelisco Estate
Obelisco Estate is a relative newcomer to the Washington Wine scene, but no stranger to high-quality winegrapes. In fact, co-owner Doug Long used to own IX Estate Vineyard in Napa Valley, famous for supplying grapes for some of Colgin Cellars' highest scoring wines. The wines produced by Obelisco Estate's Red Mountain vineyard are all amazing, particularly the Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon. The first released vintage from Obelisco Estate was 2007, consisting of a single wine, the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. For 2008 that wine was renamed "Electrum". They will also release a special Reserve-level Cabernet bottling called "Nefer III" in 2011. I can't wait to get my hands on that one!
  • 2008 Obelisco Estate Syrah Tejen Les Gosses Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    First wine in the lineup, paired with mushroom bruschetta. Lots of cherry fruit, licorice, and some pepper. Very young, but there is serious potential here. (90 pts.)

  • 2008 Obelisco Estate Malbec Tejen Obelisco Estate Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Wine #2, paired with Belgian endive salad with stilton cheese, pecans and caramelized pears. Blue fruit, black cherries, with some spices. (89 pts.)

  • 2008 Obelisco Estate Tejen Red Wine Obelisco Estate Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Wine #3, paired with a caprese salad (on a stick). Plums, blackberries, spices, and some vanilla oak. Very structured with some nice, integrated tannins. (91 pts.)

  • 2008 Obelisco Estate Merlot Tejen - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    Wine #4, paired with an apple and onion tart, with gruyere cheese. Lots of cherry fruit, cola, and some vanilla oak. This is Merlot! (91 pts.)

  • 2008 Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Electrum Obelisco Estate Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Red Mountain
    The final wine, paired with a beef canape. Amazing wine! Lots of structure, many layers of flavors...blackberry, cherry, vanilla and spices. Finishing with a vanilla coke/blackberry pie mix. Very tasty wine, and a step up from the 2007. (93 pts.)

Gifford Hirlinger
Having visited the Gifford Hirlinger tasting room on many occasions, it remains one of our favorites. Not only for the delicious wines, but also for the fun tasting room manager, Jessica (sister of winemaker Mike Berghan), who always has a great story about the wines we are tasting. This visit was no different, and we had a great time chatting with Jessica, leaving with a bottle of their 2006 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • 2008 Gifford Hirlinger Stateline Red Walla Walla Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
    A simple blend, but quite flavorful. Having loved their Merlot and Cabernet, I'm surprised that the whole is less than it's individual parts...although I'm sure the fruit isn't exactly the same. Nice and quaffable, at an amazing QPR. (88 pts.)

  • 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Merlot Estate - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
    Thinking our last bottle of GH Merlot may have been heat damaged, we locked eyes over our glasses after the first sip, knowing for sure that the last bottle we had was indeed spoiled. THIS was some good stuff! Tobacco, big fruit--blackberry and cherry--with some nice earthiness on the finish. Mike has a deft hand with wood on this wine, and there are no overbearing oak notes. Nice work! (90 pts.)

  • 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
    This wine just keeps getting better, every time I taste it! Great fruit, solid structure, nice acidity, and some really fine secondary flavors starting to emerge. The fruit is the star of the show here, with blackberries leading the charge. A bit of cassis in there too, with some earth and tobacco filling in, not a lot of oakiness at all, but just a bit of mocha coming in on the finish. (91 pts.)

  • 2008 Gifford Hirlinger Malbec - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
    This one edged a bit more towards the blue fruits than the other wines. Very rich, perhaps overly so, but a really nice wine. Not many secondary characteristics at this point, just a lot of fruit. (88 pts.)

Darby Winery
Darby Winery recently moved their tasting room from a nondescript space in the Woodinville Warehouse District to the Hollywood Schoolhouse District. The tasting room is in a new building next to Village Wines, amongst a number of other winery tasting rooms. A much better location, in my mind. Winemaker Darby English has again crafted some great wines, all at very respectable price points. My favorites are again his Syrah-based wines, and we went home with a bottle of The Dark Side Syrah.
  • 2009 Darby le deuce - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    58% Viognier, 42% Roussanne. Definitely not a fan of this one, although maybe in the heat of summer it would work better. Lots of pear fruit, with some ginger ale (minus the carbonation). Well-made, just not my type of wine. (85 pts.)

  • 2009 Darby The Endless Road - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Darby's first Rosé, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Quite nice, with some good dryness, and ample strawberry fruit. Really nice acidity too! (87 pts.)

  • 2008 Darby Purple Haze Columbia Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, from Conner Lee, Sheridan, Stonetree and Boushey vineyards. I really liked this one...Lots of cassis and raspberry fruit, with a long finish of dark chocolate. Some tannins that could use a bit more time to integrate, but other than that, it was an amazing wine (and only $20!) (91 pts.)

  • 2007 Darby CHAOS - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc, 8% Petit Verdot. Not as tasty as the Purple Haze, in my opinion. Almost too tannic, and not giving up much flavor at the moment. Not sure on the barrel regime between the two, but this wine seems like it is built to age much longer, and perhaps needs some more time to integrate. Lots of cherry fruit, but a ripple of greenness throughout that I didn't like so much. (89 pts.)

  • 2007 Darby Syrah The Dark Side Columbia Valley - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Very meaty Syrah! Lots of dark fruit, smoked meat, espresso. Very dark and full-bodied, reminds me a bit of a Betz Syrah, only at 1/2 the price. Good stuff (bought a bottle). (92 pts.)

  • 2008 Darby The Flip Side - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    This is a Grenache-based Rhone blend, barrel sample (I think). The bottle was unlabeled, at any rate. Quite young tasting, with ample tannins, in sort of a Chateauneuf du Pape style. Some mocha/oak, strawberry and cherry fruit. A touch of white pepper. (90 pts.)

  • 2008 Darby Syrah Aunt Lee - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Another barrel sample (I think--unlabeled bottle at least). We had a bottle of the 2007 Aunt Lee, and LOVED it, so it was no wonder we really liked this wine as well. Definitely on the younger side, but already showing some serious legs. Big blackberry and plum fruit, with lots of spices and smoked meat. Just what I love in a Syrah! (93 pts.)

Tasting notes posted from CellarTracker.

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