Sunday, April 17, 2011

Walla Walla Wine Report

Last weekend we headed east to Walla Walla with friends Jen, Matt, Elisabeth and Gary to relax and do a little wine tasting. The catalyst of the excursion was the Cayuse Spring Release Party. I had been on the Cayuse wait list (the only way to buy their wines) for about 5 years before finally being allocated a very small parcel of 3 bottles of futures in 2009. Purchase made I then had to wait until just last weekend to pick them up.

The party was good fun and a chance to taste all the 09's which I'll have a chance to pick up next year. Elisabeth went to school in the area and introduced us to Trevor Dorland the GM of Cayuse who was nice enough to explain the interesting rocky vineyards, very similar to those in Chateauneuf de Pape.Then she introduced us to owner and winemaker Christophe Baron who, while we all sipped on the 09 Bionic Frog, told us about the name and generally charmed us as the French are known to do.

Cayuse Spring Release Party- A+ (based on wine and my years of waiting to attend!)

Here's where else we tasted at in Walla Walla:

Longshadows - A
Although a bit on the pricey side the collection of wines at Longshadows is gorgeous. The lineup here is actually a partnership of a group of amazing winemakers, each doing the style they love the most. On this tasting I really loved the Bordeaux Blends- Pirouette and Pedestal. The tasting room has a stunning collection of Chihuly glass and beautiful views of the neighboring farm land. The entire building is very modern and is built part way into a hillside. Everyone left with a bottle or 2 from here.

Gramercy Cellars - A (group fav of the weekend)
I've loved Gramercy wines since our last trip to Walla Walla. This visit found them in their brand new tasting room, the old location of Amavi. The space is super casual and comfy with HUGE leather couches, a friendly dog and of course amazing wines from Greg. Everyone loved the Tempernillo, the Syrahs, the Grenache, the Cabs. It's tough deciding what to buy (or rather what not to buy) at Gramercy.

K Vitners - A
Can you even go to Walla Walla without a stop at K? I know that most of the wines are easily found around town but this tasting room is rocking, literally! No tasting fee, gorgeous syrahs, fun tasting room and beautiful grounds. Everyone loves K!

Waters Winery - A
Another place we've visited before and continue to love the wines. They had just released a pretty rose that we all snatched up along with their Syrah- the Forgotten Hills is always my favorite.
Basel Cellars- B
This winery is on crack. As you drive up the massive winding driveway, finally spotting the grandiose estate which is also a resort (only for wine club members). It's part Hansel & Gretel, part Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a little Leavenworth thrown in. Confused? So were we.

The wines were fine, mostly underwhelming and simple. But not bad and actually most at really good prices. It was just the crazy over the top setting that had us all going WTF??
An eagle swoops from the sky as we hold onto our ponies...

L'Ecole No 41 - A-
I love l'Ecole wines, as do most. The only reason I gave them an A- was that I felt very rushed going thru the tasting. Maybe it was just me, and they were busy, but I don't like feeling rushed through things. Having said that the wines are all so good it's another tough decision on which of the many wines to buy. This is a great first or last stop as it is right on the edge of Walla Walla.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars- A
Not in Walla Walla but in Prosser, we stopped here to break up the long drive. The wines were all quite lovely, lots of Rhone styles and even a wonderful Merlot! Super friendly tasting room staff and good prices.

more photos...

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