Tag Archive: Washington Wines

Chinook Red Blend

Chinook Red comes from the Yakima Valley in Washington. This lower alcohol wine, at 13.5%, red wine is lighter than I expected. I was expecting a syrupy, big red wine, like Washington blends tend to be. This wine has high viscosity, opening with beautiful cherries, lovely raspberries, and cranberries to power it. In the glass, it lightens to pleasant. There is enough of a body to be solid, but not solid enough to be too heavy. This wine is a ride through a field, and a return to a warm kitchen.


Baby Bear Syrah 2010

This is a special wine in the Bear series, Baby Bear Syrah, and Pursued by Bear Cabernet, made by Eric Dunham and his partner winemaker, Kyle MacLachlan. Eric Dunham passed away this year at 44, taken by his own hand. It was a great tragedy to the wine community, and our hearts go out to the Dunham family.
I had to obtain this particular wine out of homage to a winemaker native to Walla Walla, where a good deal of my family is from. It certainly did not disappoint, and could have sat in a cellar for quite some time. However, I ended up giving it as a Christmas gift, and they were kind enough to share. Baby Bear Syrah is rich, luscious, and overflowing with blackberries, licorice, thyme, red apple skins, and is truly a magnificent composition that took an hour or two to open properly in the glass. The potential of this syrah is a new experience for me, usually finding a structure like this in a cabernet or an older French wine.

Dunham’s Baby Bear Syrah is like a New World Cathedral, modeled to interpretation on an Old World gargantuan on a smaller scale.

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2012

This isn’t necessarily what I would call a varietal wine, because it isn’t true to the Merlot grape, but it is a delicious side note to an evening. This wine is by Charles Smith, rocker turned winemaker, with grapes from the Columbia Valley in Washington. this wine is beautifully smooth, and fruity without being syrupy or cloying like one might expect. It has lovely black tannins, dark sage, cinnamon, and super-juicy black cherries.
Believe it or not, this wine is actually well paired with candy-corn and milk chocolate peanut butter Lindt balls.

There were many tasty wines, and a few interesting stories. The really fun aspect of this event is witnessing the passion with which everyone speaks about their wines. To some, they’re just selling points, to others, a personal history.The representative from Frederick Wildman has worked for the company for over 25 years, and when asked how he became interested in wine, he shared one of those stories. At 21, he was studying in Boulder, Colorado and broke up with his girlfriend of 4 years. He had to find something to do, so he got a job at a liquor store. He eventually left, but moved back 11 years later, returned to the liquor store, and ran into this ex-girlfriend. This year, they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary and they share a love of wine.

My own personal interest was with L’ecole 41, over in Lowden, Washington. This winery was the 3rd in the Walla Walla Valley, and 20th in the state of Washington. It’s known mostly for it’s Merlot and Semillon wines. However, the structure on the front of many of the labels wasn’t always a winery. It used to be a school house. In fact, my grandmother attended school there as a child. I recently found a picture of her sitting on the steps there at age 6, and now every time I see that label, I smile. L’Ecole 41’s current release of Semillon 2012 was aged in all neutral oak, and is ripe with white peach flavors, apricots and pears. A sip reveals the surprise, that while this wine smells of fruit, it’s actually quit refreshing, with only enough fruit to make the wine pleasing, not syrupy.

The Spring Trade Tour showcases wines that George’s Distributing carries, but it also brings together a multitude of people who are connected through a love of wine. They gather to share wine stories, experiences, and to welcome more of these fine wines into their stores and restaurants to share with their guests.

Chinon Marc 2011

This is a surprising cabernet franc, from Walla Walla Washington. It’s lighter than the others that I’ve encountered. It is hung like a Christmas tree, with cherries, black raspberries, red plum, trimmed with anise seed and strawberries. This wine would be superb with beef or elk stew. Cabernet Sauvignon actually comes from a natural blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc. (A fun factoid for the day).

Headsnapper Rieslig 2011

This riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington is a splendid wine that sparkles a little across the palate as it surprises with light white peach flavors, apricot, and nectarines with hints of pineapple. This wine is lighter than most rieslings that I’ve found, and nicely fruity without being cloying. It would be a great pairing with seafood, and Thai food.

Canoe Ridge 2010

This was a lovely red blend from, Canoe Ridge Winery in Walla Walla, Washington. It’s slow adventure begins with licorice berries on a placid lake of Boysenberry, in a beautifully constructed vessel of savory sage and figs with red currant trim. Alright, it’s a little less poetic, but this wine is very aptly named. It’s fairly straight forward with great depth, but less mystery. When you sip this, you can almost see a sun-lit lake  and hear the gentle lapping of the waves across the canoe itself. As a side thought, I’m sure the wine itself had a specific name, but the restaurant listed it simply as Canoe Ridge.