Today’s Fresh Sheet – reviews of new and recent releases – includes wines from Avennia, William Church Winery, Matthews, Tenor Wines, Two Vintners, Covington Cellars, Renegade Wine Co. & Modern Wine Project, Palencia Wine Company, Sol Stone, and Native Sun.
The latest releases from Avennia continue an impressive string for the winery. Of note, winemaker Chris Peterson used all native yeast for fermenting the 2011 reds. “I think it helps preserve those non-fruit flavors,” Peterson said. Meanwhile the rosé is a first for the winery and is one of the more impressive ones I’ve had from the Northwest this season.
Avennia L’Egerie Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $25
(Excellent/Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant wet stone, oyster shell, peppery spices, red fruit, and savory notes. The palate is medium bodied, flavorful with a textured feel, an exquisite sense of balance, and a tart lick of acidity. 65% Grenache, 35% Mourvèdre. Alder Ridge, Upland, and Heart of the Hill vineyards. 13.7% alcohol. 85 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed July 2, 2014
Avennia Gravura Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $35
(Exceptional) An aromatically brooding wine with dark cherries, herbs, graphite, and wet gravel. The palate is dense, rich, and layered with a panoply of red and black fruit flavors while retaining a sense of vibrancy and tartness backed by firm but not unyielding tannins. A high quality find at this price. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. Angela’s (38%), Red Willow (24%), Klipsun (19%), Dionysus (11%), and Bacchus vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (50% new). 600 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Avennia Sestina Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $55
(Exceptional) An aromatically brooding wine with high toned herbal notes and dark brambly fruit. The palate is near impenetrable at present with layer upon layer of seamless dark fruit flavors that lead to a long, lingering finish. A cellar-worthy wine that needs a significant amount of time – or an extended decant – to fully reveal its charms, drinking best on the third day open. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. Bacchus, (59%) and Red Willow (41%). Aged 20 months in French oak (70% new). 250 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
William Church Winery
Changes are afoot at William Church Winery where former assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli has gone down under to learn more about winemaking in Australia. In his place, the winery has hired Noah Fox. Fox is a graduate of the Walla Walla Community College Enology and Viticulture program and worked for six years at Northstar Winery as part of their winemaking team.
Co-owner Leslie Balsley says of their winemaker search, “We were amazed at the number of applications we got from winemakers from around the world wanting to come to Washington to make wine.” She said of Fox, “Noah really stood out for us because of his experience at Northstar and a number of other wineries, the ideas he brought to the table, and his ability to wear multiple hats by representing William Church in the marketplace – a key factor in a small winery.”
All wines sampled at 62 degrees.
William Church Malbec Gamache Vineyards Columbia Valley 2010 $36
(Excellent/Exceptional) Dark as night. It’s an aromatically appealing, very varietal wine with brambly blue fruit, plum, and light green notes often found on Washington Malbec. It has a rich, velvety mouthfeel with pure, rich but surprisingly restrained fruit flavors. Thoroughly delicious. 100% Malbec. 15% alcohol.
William Church Sur La Mer Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $36
(Excellent/Exceptional) Like many wines from the 2010 vintage, it’s locked up aromatically at present with notes of herbs and berry. It’s soft, supple in feel but with great depth of flavors, lipsmacking acidity, and a lingering finish. A beautiful wine with great purity of flavors. 61% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 8% Malbec. 14.8% alcohol.
William Church 2 Spires Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $34
(Excellent) Dark in color. A brooding wine with cherry, smoke, brine, high toned herbal notes, and ash. The palate is supple and smooth with a beautiful sense of depth and polish and a long, lingering finish. As much about feel as flavor. 65% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.5% alcohol.
William Church Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2010 $40
(Excellent) Dark in color. Locked up aromatically with herbal notes, black tea, chocolate, and notes that lean more toward the savory than a fruit bomb. The palate is full of cherry and blackberry flavors with a supple feel and firm tannins that need time to uncoil. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon (Dineen Vineyard), 13% Petit Verdot (Northridge), and 7% Malbec (Gamache). 14.5% alcohol. 186 cases produced.
William Church Tres Bien Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $27
(Good/Excellent) The first vintage of this wine, it’s locked up aromatically with floral and herbal notes, pencil lead, and light green notes. The palate has lipsmacking fruit flavors and a good sense of density and structure. Best at the dinner table. 66% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, and 17% Petit Verdot. Gamache Vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak. 125 cases produced.
William Church Malbec Gamache Vineyard Columbia Valley 2011 $36
(Excellent/Exceptional) Dark in color. A Washington Malbec prototype with bright plum, boysenberry, brambly green notes, and abundant peppery spices. The palate is seamless in style, flavorful and drawn out. 100% Malbec. 14.4% alcohol. 225 cases produced.
William Church Syrah Les Vignes de Marcoux Yakima Valley 2011 $38
(Good/Excellent) Pops aromatically with ripe blueberries, smoked meat, mineral, tar, and floral notes. The palate is light on its feet but is still richly flavored. 100% Syrah. 14.5% alcohol. 77 cases produced.
William Church Syrah Yakima Valley 2010 $32
(Excellent) Radically different in style from the 2011 wine with cherry and berry notes. The palate is dense and richly flavored, seamless in feel with a lingering finish. Syrah co-fermented with Viognier. Red Willow (84%) and Dineen vineyards. 14.8% alcohol. 112 cases produced.
The 2011 vintage of the Matthews Syrah, reviewed below, will be the winery’s last as the they focus on Bordeaux varieties. This seems a shame as the winery has consistently excelled with the variety. Alas, all things must pass.
Matthews Sauvignon Blanc Stillwater Creek Columbia Valley 2012 $30
(Good/Excellent) A brightly aromatic wine with abundant herbal notes, white grapefruit, and toasty spices. The palate is full bodied with tart, mouthwatering acidity. 100% Sauvignon Blanc Aged 7 months in concrete (47%) and French oak. 53% barrel fermented in 33% new French oak. 14.6% alcohol. 127 cases produced.
Matthews Claret Columbia Valley 2010 $40
(Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatically appealing wine with mineral, blackberry, pencil lead, a touch of eucalyptus, soil, spices, and a vanilla accent. The palate is dense and chewy in style with rich fruit flavors and a lingering finish. A claret prototype that needs time in the cellar. Give 3-5 years. 55.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21.5% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 3.1% Petit Verdot. Stillwater Creek, Two Blondes, Weinbau, Dionysus, Bacchus, Blue Mountain, and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (50% new). 14.9% alcohol. 1,641 cases produced.
Matthews Syrah Columbia Valley 2011 $38
(Exceptional) Pops aromatically with floral notes, boysenberry, plum, and spice. The palate is supple, dense in texture with rich, vibrantly lush fruit flavors that hang on the finish. A flat out gorgeous example of the variety. 100% Syrah. Stillwater Creek. Aged 17 months in 500L French oak. 14.8% alcohol. 386 cases produced.
Tenor Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2011 $50
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with spice, herbs, citrus, and light barrel accents. The palate is medium-plus bodied with a creamy finish. 100% Chardonnay. Stillwater Creek. Aged 10 months in once used French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 160 cases produced.
Tenor 2:2 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $48
(Excellent/Exceptional) Draws you into the glass with smoke, mocha, pencil lead, mineral, and dark fruit. The palate is rich and power packed with cherry and vanilla flavors, chewy tannins, and an extended finish. Give two to four years. 67.4% Merlot, 20.3% Cabernet Franc, 8.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.3% Syrah, and 1.6% Malbec. 15.3% alcohol. 496 cases produced.
Tenor 1:1 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $98
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with char, cherry, licorice, dark chocolate, and abundant spices. The palate is tightly wound with dry, chalky tannins. 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Malbec. Hedges, Stillwater Creek, and Weinbau vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (100% new). 15.2% alcohol. 587 cases produced.
Tenor Syrah Columbia Valley 2010 $60
(Excellent) Locked up tightly at present with brooding notes of chocolate, blackberry, espresso, mineral, and dark plum. The palate is tightly wound, concentrated and supple in feel with grainy tannins. 100% Syrah. Lawrence, Va Piano, and Stillwater Creek vineyards. Aged 19 months in 500L French oak (100% new). 15.1% alcohol. 210 cases produced.
At Two Vintners, winemaker Morgan Lee has made his name in part with Zinfandel. But it was not supposed to be that way.
“Zin was never part of the plan,”said Lee. “Zinfandel was supposed to be a one off to get in to StoneTree Vineyard.” However, the wine has taken off. “It’s damn near our most popular wine,” Lee said.
Lee said his Zinfandel is made from a combination of perfectly ripe berries, shot berries, and bunch rot. “I don’t want it to be clean,” Lee explained. “I want it to be what Zinfandel is meant to be.”
Two Vintners Grenache Blanc Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 $25
(Excellent) An aromatically alluring wine with white grapefruit rind, wet stone, and a light floral note. The palate is full bodied, tart and richly flavored with bright acid and abundant citrus flavors. Shows a little warmth but overall holds it well. 92% Grenache Blanc, 8% Roussanne (Olsen). Aged in stainless steel (66%) and neutral French oak. 13.9% alcohol. 330 cases produced.
Two Vintners O.G. Extended Maceration Gewürztraminer Olsen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 $28
(Good) Light orange in color. A brightly aromatic wine with abundant notes of orange peel, lychee, mineral, and mandarin orange slices. The palate is dry and medium-plus bodied with a rich, almost oily feel, finishing a bit short and wanting more acidity to keep it all together. 100% Gewurztraminer. Olsen Vineyard. Crushed into stainless steel and aged 6 weeks on skins. Aged 10 months in neutral French oak. 13.9% alcohol. 60 cases produced.
Two Vintners Syrah Columbia Valley 2011 $20
(Good/Excellent) Pops aromatically with a mix of brambly berries, a well delineated, persistent mineral note, peppery spices, floral notes, black olive, and earth on a wine that brings a surprising amount of complexity for this price. The palate is lighter in style, seamlessly put together with tart, end-to-end fruit and savory flavors leading to a lingering finish. 95% Syrah, 5% Roussanne. Olsen (50%), Boushey (30%), Stoney Vine, Stone Valley, and Discovery vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak (15% new). 14.5% alcohol. 420 cases produced.
Two Vintners Syrah Stoney Vine Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2011 $35
(Excellent/Exceptional) Leaps up out of the glass with smoke, earth, wet gravel, saline, and black olive, showing a lot complexity to the savory aromas. The palate is soft and layered with good concentration and a long, lingering finish. Alternately shows the youth of this vineyard along with a surprising amount of depth and intensity. 100% Syrah (30% stems). Aged 18 months in 10% new French oak puncheons. 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Two Vintners Syrah May’s Discovery Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills 2011 $35
An aromatically intriguing with fruit leather and sagebrush. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, supple and clean in feel with a lingering finish. (Wine Enthusiast review to be published in an upcoming issue).
Two Vintners Lola Red Wine Red Mountain 2011 $27
(Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatically brooding wine with mineral, black pepper, and dark fruit. The palate is full bodied, rich and fruit filled with a lingering finish. 60% Syrah (Klipsun), 40% Cabernet Sauvignon (Kiona). 50% new French oak. 15.2% alcohol. 170 cases produced.
Two Vintners Merlot Pepper Bridge Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2010 $32
(Excellent) Medium ruby. Aromatically locked up at present with roasted coffee, high toned herbs, candy cane, and a mixture of red and black fruit. The palate is on the lighter side, almost elegant in style with fine grained tannins. A very pretty wine that is just a baby now and should only improve with some additional time in the bottle. 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. 50% new French oak for 20 months. 14.5% alcohol. 150 cases produced.
Two Vintners Oliver Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $55
(Excellent) A dark and brooding wine with dark berries, spice, and sage. The palate brings a mouthful of dense, rich fruit flavors, beautifully integrated tannins and a lingering finish. 64% Syrah, 23% Petite Sirah, and 13% Grenache. StoneTree and Olsen vineyards. Approximately 30% new French oak. 14.7% alcohol. 168 cases produced.
Two Vintners Justice Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $55
(Good/Excellent) An aromatically brooding wine with dark fruit, black currant, and light herbs. The palate is packed to the brim with rich, dark fruit flavors with a lingering finish. 59% Syrah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Olsen, Kiona, Klipsun, and StoneTree vineyards. 15.4% alcohol. 176 produced.
Two Vintners Zinfandel StoneTree Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2011 $27
An aromatic wine with stewed, dried red and black fruits, and dried maraschino cherries. The palate is chock full of cranberry and raspberry flavors. The alcohol shows but generally it holds it well. 16.7% alcohol. (Wine Enthusiast review to be published in an upcoming issue).
Covington Cellars Sangiovese Yakima Valley 2010 $25
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of cherry, light herbs, and spice. The palate is medium bodied, vibrantly tart with brightly shining acid and barely a trace of new oak influence. A delicious bottle of this seldom seen variety. 100% Sangiovese. Kiona, Boushey, and Seven Hills vineyards. 14.2% alcohol. 307 cases produced.
Covington Cellars ODE Sangiovese Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2009 $60
(Decent/Good) Light in color. A lightly aromatic wine with cedar, light green notes, barrel tones, and floral notes. The palate is medium-plus bodied with well-constructed fruit flavors. 100% Sangiovese. Seven Hills and Boushey vineyards. Aged 36 months in neutral French oak. 14.6% alcohol.
Covington Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2010 $36
(Excellent/Exceptional) A brightly aromatic wine full of fresh red berries, currant, and herbs. The palate has densely packed fruit flavors and firm, somewhat dry tannins. Give it plenty of time to open up and smooth out. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. Pepper Bridge, Les Collines, and Kiona vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. 126 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Covington Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Klipsun Vineyards Red Mountain 2009 $60
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with dark fruit and black licorice. The palate is densely packed with black cherry and blackberry flavors and firm, dry tannins. Aged 30 months in French oak (100% new). 14.8% alcohol.
Covington Cellars Petite Sirah Olsen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2010 $40
(Excellent/Exceptional) A dark, glass staining wine with abundant notes of black pepper, savory herbs, and an earthy funk. The palate is full bodied, rich and tightly wound with firm, slightly dry tannins. 100% Petite Sirah.
Renegade Wine Co. and Modern Wine Project
See a writeup in Seattle Metropolitan on these two projects.
Renegade Wine Co. Red Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $11
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic, fresh and fruit filled wine with plum, huckleberry, currant, a touch of dark chocolate, and herbal grace notes. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with a soft, plush feel, slightly tacky tannins, and no obvious new oak influence to get in the way of the restrained fruit flavors that show a very pleasing sense of balance throughout. A very enjoyable, high quality wine that goes down easy and would make for a perfect dinner table companion but also stands up nicely by itself. 13.9% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Modern Wine Project Red Wine Washington State 2005 $25
(Excellent) A full nine nears old and in full bloom, this is a richly aromatic wine with notes of milk chocolate, roasted coffee bean, cassis, mint, an assortment of red and black fruit, and plentiful barrel spices. Much of the enjoyment is about feel with stretched out cherry flavors, exquisitely polished, velvety soft tannins, and a lingering finish. Seemingly right at its peak. Drink now. 47% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot. 14.9% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Modern Wine Project Red Wine Washington State 2006 $25
(Excellent/Exceptional) Somewhat aromatically quiet but what’s lurking beneath the surface is attention getting with notes of cedar, freshly ground coffee, cherry, blackberry, and herbal grace notes. The palate is supple, soft, and seamless end to end with cherry flavors and tannins polished to a fine sheen that lead to an extended finish. An unusually high quality wine to find at this price that shows a beautiful sense of balance. 44% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Franc, and 16% Malbec. 14.9% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Modern Wine Project Malbec Washington State 2009 $25
(Excellent) An inviting aroma profile with notes of plum, boysenberry, coffee, and spice. The palate is medium bodied, smooth and textured in feel, losing a little bit of it’s rhythm with some sharp edges in the middle before coming back together and lingering on the finish. Appears to be in a sweet spot at present. Drink now. 84% Malbec, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot. 14.9% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Palencia Wine Company
Palencia Wine Company is a new project from Victor Palencia (Jones of Washington) that is an umbrella for both Palencia Wine and La Monarcha, with the latter at a lower price and intended for everyday drinking. The winery’s tasting room is located in the airport region in Walla Walla.
Palencia Wine Company Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2013 $18
(Good/Excellent) Still settling into the bottle with tiny bubbles apparent, it shows abundant notes of ripe pear, the underside of a pineapple, and honeydew melon. It’s just about dry, round in feel, and fruit filled with a tart finish. 12.0% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Vino La Monarca Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 2013 $15
(Good) Moderately aromatic with abundant notes of red apple and cantaloupe. It’s full bodied and drinks just off dry with a textured, rich feel and enough acidity to keep it all together. Still needs some time to settle in but has all the stuffing. 12.3% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
Palencia Wine Company Albariño Ancient Lakes 2013 $18
An aromatic wine with notes of pear, cantaloupe, and lime. It dry and fruit-filled, richly flavored, narrowing toward the finish. Give it time to open up. (Wine Enthusiast review to be published in an upcoming issue).
Sol Stone Eclipse Tempranillo Upland Estate Vineyards Yakima Valley 2011 $NA
(Good/Excellent) Pinot-like in color, it’s lightly aromatic with notes of pencil eraser, an assortment of fresh red fruit, and mortared herbs. The palate is lighter in style, lip smacking, fresh and fruity with little apparent new oak influence, showing a pretty sense of balance throughout with just a touch of chalky dryness providing some distraction. Drinks best with a light chill. 13.4% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Native Sun Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2010 $50
(Good) Smells unmistakably like Cabernet Sauvignon with brooding notes of dark coffee beans, cherry, chocolate, smoke, herbs, mineral, and high toned barrel spices. The fruit is lighter in style with mouthwatering acidity, and firm, slightly dry tannins. The oak gets a bit too far out front here but there’s still good things going on. Give some time in the cellar or a long decant. 14.4% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
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