What follows is a section of my 2010 Walla Walla Spring Release Report. The report will be published in its entirety in .pdf form after the last entry is posted to the blog. See previous posts here.
Of the numerous new wineries that opened in 2009, few made as significant an impression on me as Rasa Vineyards. Named after a word in Sanskrit that translates roughly to terroir, Rasa Vineyards was started by brothers Billo and Pinto Naravane. The winery’s inaugural releases were two wines – the 2007 QED, principally Syrah, and the 2007 Principia, a reserve Syrah. Both of these wines stand among the finest being produced in the state and exemplify why there is so much excitement about Washington Syrah (see a review of these wines here).
For Spring Release Weekend, Rasa offered two new releases every bit as impressive. The Composer Riesling, the first white wine from Rasa Vineyards, is nothing short of spectacular. Fruit for this wine comes from two properties of Sagemoor Vineyards. Half of the fruit comes from Dionysus Vineyard. The Dionysus Riesling vines were planted in 1974 and are believed to be the Geisenheim 110 clone. The other half of the fruit comes from Bacchus Vineyard, which sits next to Dionysus. In contrast to Dionysus, the vines from Bacchus are young and are a combination of two different clones, Geisenheim 198 and Neustadt 90. The combination of these two vineyards, located near Pasco, and three clones provide a depth, complexity, and balance that put this Riesling among the best being made in Washington State. The wine, I should add, is priced accordingly.
The winery’s second new release is a varietally labeled Mourvedre. Mourvedre, which is uncommon in Washington as a stand-alone wine, has previously been blended in small proportions to Rasa’s QED wine. However, last December during Holiday Barrel Tasting, the Naravanes poured samples of this wine to visitors and were implored to make a single varietal wine. The Naravanes responded to the voice of the people by creating Vox Populi, a one hundred percent Mourvedre. The results are, again, exceptional.
For its first three vintages, Rasa has been making wines at Artifex, a custom crush facility in Walla Walla. Later this year, the winery will be moving south of town to the building formerly occupied by Hence Cellars. Rasa is scheduled to move in to the facility September 1st, just in time for crush.
Rasa Vineyards (WWFR 2009)
Rasa Vineyards The Composer Riesling Sagemoor Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $30
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Just a tinge of color. Mineral, pear, freshly sliced apples, and peaches mark an expressive nose. Palate is exceptionally well balanced with just a touch of sweetness. A beautifully put together wine that lingers and lingers on the finish. 100% Riesling. Dionysus and Bacchus vineyards. 1.6% residual sugar. 12.4% alcohol. 228 cases produced. Sampled at 56 degrees.
Rasa Vineyards Vox Populi Mourvedre Yakima Valley 2008 $45
Rating: ** (Exceptional) An enchanting nose with white pepper, game, violets, and a wild, almost animalistic quality. On the taste, an impressive texture and structure with a nice acidic uplift in the middle and a long finish. Give six months. 100% Mourvedre. Minick Vineyard, Yakima Valley. 14.5% alcohol. 72 cases produced.