Reminder that nominations for the 2009 Reader Survey Wine of the Year and 2010 Wine to Watch are due by Monday 12/7 at 9pm. Read about the survey here.

Olsen Estates is a family winery located in Prosser, Washington. The Olsen family’s history in the Yakima Valley dates back to the early 1900s. In 1972, brother’s Dick and Larry established Olsen Brothers Farm. They planted grapes on the farm in 1980. Twenty nine years later, the Olsens have twenty-one varieties planted on 765 acres near Rattlesnake Mountain.

While the first vinifera vines were planted many years back, the winery didn’t make its first wine until the 2006 vintage. Before this time, the vineyard provided grapes for other wineries, such as Kestrel. For their wines, Olsen uses one hundred percent estate fruit. The winery currently produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Roussanne, Syrah, and Rhone-style white and red blends. Total production is 5,000 cases. Dick and Larry’s sons, Martin and Leif, manage the winery and vineyard.

The two wines sampled here are both excellent. The 2007 Petit Verdot comes from one lot on Ranch 15, known as “Olsen Hill.” This is one of the finest examples of this varietal I have come across in Washington.

Unfortunately, I have not seen many of the Olsen Estate wines on the shelves at this point (I purchased these bottles at Seattle Uncorked’s Debuts & Discoveries event earlier this year). I expect that to change given their production and the excellent wines they are making. Your best bet for finding these wines at present is directly from the winery either on-line or in the tasting room which is open daily.

Olsen Estates Chardonnay Yakima Valley 2007 $25 Rating: *
Pale golden color. A very clean aroma profile with mineral, Golden Delicious apples, and light spices. A beautiful, smooth palate that glides along. It is very clean but still has weight. Intricately complex on both the nose and taste. 100% Chardonnay. Aged in 74% new French oak. 100% barrel-aged for sixteen months. 14.5% alcohol. 600 cases produced.

Olsen Estates Petit Verdot Yakima Valley 2007 $37 Rating: *
A deep, dark color. Abundant herbal aromas mix with brambly berries, light chocolate, nuts, wet, dark soil, and traces of violets. Not an overwhelming nose but still very intriguing. The palate is polished and even. There are pieces missing, but considering it is one hundred percent varietal, not many. 100% Petit Verdot. Aged in 75% new French oak for sixteen months. 14.4% alcohol. 200 cases produced.