Tasting Notes: Washington Wine Month

by Zach Geballe

Washington Wine Month is upon us, and while of course the state’s wines get attention the other 11 months of…


With five decades of family history in farming, Robert Van Westen is most at home, sustainably cultivating the soils of his Naramata Bench estate for Van Westen Vineyards. He was born on the Bench, grew up farming and planted his first grapes here in 1999 (hence the Twitter handle). The 2014 Viognier shows his careful handling of what can become an out-of-control grape. Ripe pear, gooseberry, orange and apricot blossom open the nose of this voluptuous, off-dry white.

Humans, as a species, are visually driven. When we see a photograph or watch a movie that is visually pleasing, we are drawn in and take notice. By being guided by these ocular clues around the world, many decisions are made on the basis of sight alone. Take, for example, choosing a wine out of shelf of similar wines. Now to the wine experts out there, a label may not be as important as the contents held within, but to the average consumer, a label is everything.

Red blends can be a roller coaster of sensations for your taste buds. A Merlot is a distinct, almost trademarked, flavor that can be easily identified. So too can the Malbec variety be pinpointed after one sip. However, when combined, they can produce a wine that perfectly balances two flavors that you would otherwise expect to be wrestling for prominence.
Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 vintage of Côt et Merlau finds a harmony between these two ivories.

Rock and wine is one of those combinations that sounds strange at first, but begins to make sense shortly after. Think milkshakes and French fries, or crackers and milk (seriously, it’s good). For everything that wine pairs well with, the first to come to mind may not be rock music. But, lo and behold, it is a marriage that works.

There are a few different thoughts that run through your head when you’re sitting in a room for hours, tasting dozens if not hundreds of wines, all while trying to figure out which ones are the best of the bunch. Most of them are variations on “what in the world have I gotten myself into,” but amidst the mild self-loathing were some insights into the current state of Northwest wine.
Holy cow we make a lot of different wines.

The French-named Lenné Estate does not have French roots, rather English ones. Named for proprietor Steve Lutz’s late father-in-law, Lenny, Lutz and his wife Karen run their Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir farm as an ode to Lenny and his original chicken farm in the London suburban village of Wolkingham. The two planted in 2000 in Yamhill, Oregon, and have stayed on the straight path of Pinot Noir since.

For those of us that are not familiar with the holiday, Bastille Day, sometimes called French National Day, commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the July 14 storming of Bastille in 1789. Troops stormed through Bastille, which at the time was a medieval fortress and prison in Paris that was widely regarded as a symbol of being ruled under the hated Bourbon monarchy.

Founded in 2013 with just a Riesling to boot, Patterson, Washington’s ANEW Winery is produced by Chateau St. Michelle and produces light-bodied, fruit-forward wines. The young winery currently offers three wine varieties in very elegant custom bottles with a stylish diagonal indented slash in the glass, a simple yet striking floral logo and muted color scheme.
Their 2014 Pinot Grigio is a very clean and crisp wine that’s bright with well-balanced acidity.

Mount Rainer. Rattlesnake Ridge. Mount Si. Anyone here can tell you that the Pacific Northwest has some of the most gorgeous outdoor recreational destinations in the United States, and during the summer these places act as stages to some of the finest scenic summer memories. Now add in some of the best bevvies the region has to offer and you might ask yourself… what’s the catch here?
Outdoor booze cruises are a relatively new concept.

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