Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend - Day 2

Make sure you read about our Day 1 adventures first!

We started off Day 2 by grabbing the free breakfast at our hotel. A nice spread! Afterwards, as part of our group was already out at the Airport wineries, we headed downtown for Starbucks and ended up tasting at DaMa Wines, with Mel pouring again (this time as a brunette!). I liked their Syrah a lot.

Finally, we headed south to my favorite Walla Walla winery, Rasa Vineyards. Pouring their wines was winemaker Billo Naravane. His brother and business partner, Pinto, was unfortunately not able to make the trip out to Walla Walla from his home on the East Coast. The wines were, as always, absolutely amazing! From their second-label PB Wines to the perfect-scoring 2007 Principia Reserve Syrah, all were so good! The Principia was my favorite, but I went home with another bottle of their delicious 2007 QED Rhone blend. Barrel samples were the 2009 QED, 2008 Principia and 2008 Creative Impluse, a stellar Bordeaux blend sourced from DuBrul Vineyard in Yakima Valley. If you thought Rasa was only great with Rhone varietals, think again! This wine shows a ton of promise, and I'm kicking myself for not jumping on a couple bottles at futures pricing. Such depth and purity of fruit. Just amazing wine.

After Rasa, we headed back into Walla Walla and out to the airport to meet up with our wayward friends at Dunham Cellars. The winery was all decked out in full Christmas decorations, with a huge tree in one corner, perfect for photo ops. Favorite wine at Dunham was the 2006 Columbia Valley Syrah. The barrel samples were a 2008(?) Syrah and Cabernet from Lewis Vineyard (both were VERY tasty).

Although I wanted to hit the 5 "incubator" wineries at the Airport, we ended up heading back into town to dump the cars and set off on foot to the downtown area tasting rooms. First stop, Trey Busch and Sleight of Hand Cellars. A bonus this time, we got to meet Trey's stepfather (I think), Dougal, from Georgia. What a fun guy! Trey makes an amazing Syrah, the Levitation, and the 2008 was drinking well this day. The barrel sample was a 2009 Syrah from Funk Vineyard called "Funkadelic". It was superb. I wanted to pick up a couple bottles of the Levitation, but didn't want to lug them around with me all night, so I swore to stop by on Sunday before we left to stock up. I forgot, of course (sorry Trey!), but will get some soon! The wine is too good to pass up.

After leaving SofH, we hiked down to El Corazon Winery at the end of downtown, and next to Mill Creek Brewpub. Spencer is the owner/winemaker, and his lovely wife and 6 year-old son were helping out in the tasting room. Never having tried El Corazon wines, I was very impressed! The barrel sample was a special extended-barrel aged Syrah. Great stuff, but reserved for wine club members. I'll be leaning on Woody to kick me down some when it is available! Kristina ended up buying a magnum of their 2009 Malbec. Really yummy stuff! As a bonus, the Walla Walla Holiday Light Parade went by as we were walking over to our next stop up the street.

That stop being Nicholas Cole Cellars. A great, modern tasting room, right at the end of downtown (and a perfect place to watch the parade of lights, while staying warm). Stand out wine here was the Estate Reserve, but ALL of the wines were great. A sad aside here, winemaker Mike Neuffer has closed the winery indefinitely, in order to care for his children in Seattle, after the death of their mother. I hope all goes well, and he is able to return to winemaking soon. The wines are delicious.

At this point, we had all hit our wine limit and headed over the the Marcus Whitman Hotel bar for some cocktails and warmth, before going back to the hotel. Don't miss our Day 3 adventures!

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