I was very fortunate to be able to attend this event as a member of the media . .small time bloggers count too. Needless to say, I was excited to be able to sample so many potentially great wines from a spectacular wine growing region. We ventured to Walla Walla with some friends back in Nov 2015. So many great venues and too little time. Naturally, I looked on this event as my missed opportunity.
Forty-one wineries made the effort to be included in this event. All but one had 3-4 offerings to share. So, I had my work cut out for me. I made the decision, based on my preferences, to concentrate my tasting efforts just on the blends being offered. And with only a couple single varietal exceptions, I stuck to that plan.
The Walla Walla Valley is dominated by Bordeaux style grape varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier , Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah are the primary players with Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Petit Sirah, Carmenere, Rousanne, Semillon, Marsanne and Mourvedre adding to the mix. So much fantastic potential. (i.e. CSM = Cab, Syrah, Merlot)
- NALIN . .A beautiful nose, slightly fruity and slightly vegetal/earthy. Very pleasant mid palate and finishes strong without being too dry.
- CABERNET FRANC . . Good nose, quite silky mid and a soft finish. OK, but not great
- NIGHT OWL . . Earthy nose, a bit of dirt and forest as well as a minerality on the finish
- MCCOOL . . CSM blend with a touch of Petite Verdot thrown in. Big dark fruit on the nose. Very smooth mid that slides into a long dry finish.
- STONE RIVER . . . [Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc blend] Quite soft fruit on the nose, silky smooth mid and a quick finish. . over too soon.
- SBS . . . [Semillon, Sauv Blanc blend] One of only a few white blends I sampled on this event. A fresh nose, but not crisp. It lacked a bit on the citrus fruit notes, though it was slightly floral. Very mild citrus, sort of like a Fuji apple.
- CHERRY STREET . . . This wine is being rebranded as EXPLORER. A slightly earth nose, but full of dark fruit on the nose as well as the palate. A smooth and very nice drinker. A potential go-to for me.
- GRENACHE ROSE‘ . . . Amazing nose. Violets, herbs and other floral notes. Soft on mid palate, but no finish. Just falls on floor.
- TRIBUTE RED BLEND . . . Solid all around, nose and palate. A bit more acid than some, but good drinker.
- 3 LEGGED RED . . . Inky dark, fruit basket on the nose . .Fantastic. Silky mid palate and a nice long finish. Superb blend. New FAVE.
- TRUTINA . . . A similar flavor profile to the 3 LEGGED RED but with greater depth of flavor and nose. This wine spends 2 yrs in barrel and another 1 yr in bottle. Another FANTASTIC choice. Fave #2
- CABERNET FRANC ROSE‘ . . . A wonderful aroma of roses, quite floral. Crisp and luscious with floral notes on the mid palate as well. Would make a great patio wine.
- WILD THYME . . . A nice Merlot based blend. Earthy nose, with a silky mid palate . .Goes quickly dry.
- JONGLEUR PETIT VERDOT . . . Nice dark fruit on the nose. Again this wine is silky in the mid palate but goes very quickly dry . . .not as luxurious as some others.
- LUMINESCE . . . Semillon and Sauv Blanc blend. Great citrus on the nose. Crisp lemony mid palate. Very refreshing.
- ESTATE SYRAH . . . Really nice nose, plenty of dark fruit. Smooth mid palate, good structure, very pleasant. An Easy drinker.
- APOGEE . . . From Pepper Bridge vineyards. No dominant fruit aromas. Good structure, but a bit one-dimensional.
- TRINE . . . Simple. A very nice homage to traditional Bordeaux and the 5 grapes that define that. .Easy nose, smooth mid. Nice drinker.
- CIEL DU CHEVAL . . . Vegetal nose, earthy plus viney. Similar structure on palate. A bit one-dimensional, Dry finish.
- WALLA WALLA . . . A much more pleasant nose, more fruit on the palate. Blend of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Nice mid palate, but is immediately dry. No lingering finish. Too bad.
- THE CONJUROR . . . A great blend of delicious dark fruit and earthiness on the nose which carries over to the palate .
- THE ARCHIMAGE . . . Cab Franc blend. Fruity with a silky mid palate and a very smooth finish. Another good drinker.
- FIREHOUSE RED . . . Nicely balanced nose, Good fruit and a smooth mid palate. Nicely balanced structure throughout.
- WASHINGTON STATE CUVEE . . . Similar in aroma, taste and structure to many others. A good option.
- BELLO ROSSO . . . Super Tuscan. Good nose, Sangiovese is prominent though it is a 50-50 blend. Good mid as well as a good finish. Very solid.
- NELMS ROAD RED . . . Cab Franc and Merlot blend. Nice fruit up front. Smooth through the mid palate. Good finish.
- ARTIST SERIES CABERNET SAUVIGNON . . . A CS and CF blend. Really nice dark fruit up front. A smooth mid palate and a solid finish. Pretty great overall.
- PETITE SIRAH . . . Nice nose, very pleasant. Flavor is excellent. Mid palate is loaded with deep dark fruit. A soft finish, not overly tannic. A really nice surprise.
- ESTATE RED . . . An excellent nose, loaded with fruit aromas. A smooth and well-balanced blend.
- TRIED N TRUE . . . Syrah/Cab Sauv blend. Nicely smooth all around. Easy drinker with decent structure.
- MITH . . . Bordeaux blend. Nice aroma. Solid mid palate flavor and structure and some great fruit. Solid choice.
- SEMILLON . . . A really nice palate cleanser. Light and crisp, but no really discernible fruit. But to be fair, this wine should have been at the beginning of this tasting session as they do tend to be much more subtle.
- WHITE ON WHITE . . . At 0.5% of residual sugar, this lovely Rhone blend hit the spot. A crisp nose, and nice fruit notes on the mid palate. And there is something really interesting going on with this wine, though for me it is difficult to pin down. Slightly sweet and slightly floral . . A very cool choice.
This was a very interesting and very educational afternoon. There were a few samples that I’ve chosen not to include. In all I’ve listed the 33 wines I sampled on this outing. The Walla Walla Valley offers so many great choices of fine wines. There were many more single varietal options that I chose not to try, that may be exactly what you are looking for in wine. I would encourage a trip of your own to this fine area and create a tour of your own. I feel confident that you won’t be disappointed.