Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Efeste, Rasa Vineyards, Tenor Wines, Matthews Estate, and Long Shadows.


Winemaker Brennon Leighton of Woodinville’s Efeste continues to impress with another set of stellar releases. The new wines include three Syrahs, each hailing from different sites – Boushey Vineyard, Red Willow, and Red Mountain. As usual, these wines are studies both in vineyard contrast and in excellence. The fourth new wine is a Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend hailing from StoneTree vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. In a unique twist, this wine contains a whopping 67% Mourvedre. Though wine club/tasting room only, this wine is more than worth the trip.

Efeste Emmy Red Wine Stone Tree Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2009 $38
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with peppery spice, mineral, a potpourri of fruit and floral notes, and a meaty streak. The palate is medium bodied with seamless fruit flavors and a lithe feel. 67% Mourvedre, 22% Grenache, and 11% Syrah. StoneTree Vineyard.

Efeste Jolie Bouche Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $39
Rating: ** (Exceptional) A crazily aromatic wine with abundant mineral notes, red fruit, meat, savory notes, iron, and floral notes. The palate is big and brawny while also bringing tremendous refinement. Silky tannins carry this wine off into the distance.

Efeste Ceidleigh Syrah Red Mountain 2009 $38
Rating: ** (Exceptional) An aromatic wine with dark fruit along with abundant mineral notes, savory notes, and high toned floral notes. Bold and fruit filled with a chocolate laden finish. Has enough structure to lay down in the cellar for many years to come.

Efeste Eleni Syrah Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) Locked up tightly at present, this wine reveals crushed flowers, high toned blue fruit, and mineral notes. The palate is soft and detailed, bringing a tremendous amount of grace and refinement.

Rasa Vineyards

Brothers Billo and Pinto Naravane of Rasa Vineyards continue to create outrageously high quality wines at compelling price points with their PB label wines. Named after their first initials, the Naravanes use this label for fruit that does not fit into their other programs – not declassified fruit. Both of the 2009 PB wines reviewed here offer outrageously high quality-to-price ratios. The only downside is that these wines are made in extremely limited production, so don’t expect them to last long.

PB Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2009 $29
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Locked up tightly at present this wine ultimately reveals a Cabernet Franc prototype of light herbal notes, high toned floral notes, cherry, and chocolate. The palate has a silky texture with concentrated fruit flavors and grainy tannins. 100% Cabernet Franc. Weinbau Vineyard. Aged 22 months in French oak (40% new). 14.7% alcohol. 75 cases produced.

PB Red Wine Kiona Vineyards Red Mountain 2009 $29
Rating: ** (Exceptional) A mineral driven wine with high toned floral notes, brambly berries, and milk chocolate. Tightly wound up, this wine unravels to reveal penetrating fruit flavors accented by taught tannins. Capped off by an extended finish. The quality to price ratio couldn’t be much higher for this wine. 61% Syrah, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 23 months in French oak (40% new). 15.2% alcohol. 191 cases produced.

Tenor Wines

Tenor Wines fall releases include two impressive wines, the winery’s signature 1:1 Bordeaux-style blend and a Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc is Tenor’s first white wine. The winery says, “We decided that in order to make something special we would need to take some risks.” Take some risks they did, giving the juice 48 hours of skin contact and barrel fermenting and aging the wine in 100% new French oak. The result is a rich, textured, full-bodied white.

Tenor Wines Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2010 $48
Rating: * (Excellent) Toasty spices leap up from the glass along with kiwi, guava, pineapple, white grapefruit, beeswax, and high-toned herbal notes. The palate is silky, rich, and textured, laced with citrus and tropic fruit flavors accented by vibrant acidity. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Stillwater Creek. Aged 7 months in 100% new French oak. 14.6% alcohol. 93 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Tenor Wines 1:1 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $98
Rating: * (Excellent) Aromas of dark, brambly fruit rise up from the glass along with exotic spices, high toned herbal notes, vanilla, and butterscotch. Palate shows abundant vanilla and dark fruit flavors that glide along accented by silky tannins. Capped off by a long finish. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 13% Malbec, and 7% Merlot. Aged 20 months in 100% new French oak. 15% alcohol. 141 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mathews Estate

Woodinville’s Matthews Estate has seen a rebirth of late with a series of high quality releases and frequent on-site events. From ‘Wednesday wind downs’ to ‘Jazz in the Cellar,’ something always seems to be happening at the winery. Matthews fall releases continue the winery’s resurgence with two impressive new wines, a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Syrah.

Matthews Sauvignon Blanc Stillwater Creek Columbia Valley 2010 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) An intriguing aroma profile with herbal notes, slightly under ripe pineapple, lime, and white grapefruit. Crisp and tart on the palate with a zing of acidity. 94% Sauvignon Blanc, 6% Semillon. Stillwater Creek, Sagemoor, and Rosebud vineyards. 25% whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel. 14% alcohol. 1,021 cases produced.

Matthews Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $39
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Leaps up from the glass with blueberries, plum, baker’s chocolate, and boysenberries. Silky berry and chocolate flavors glide across a palate buffeted by soft tannins. Lingers on the finish. A thoroughly delicious wine. 100% Syrah. Lawrence, Stillwater Creek, and Va Piano vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak. 14.8% alcohol. 337 cases produced.


The Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling is made by resident winemaker Gilles Nicault and Armin Diel, proprietor of Germany’s Schlossgut Diel. The results have never been more impressive than with this just off dry wine from the 2010 vintage.

Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $20
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Aromatically alluring with bosc pear, nectarine, lime zest, and wet stone. Just off dry with a seamless palate full of white grapefruit flavors and mouthwatering acidity. Lingers impressively on the finish.