Sorry Napa Valley – Why Washington State is the Best U.S. Wine Region
|Course||Pairing / Description||Wine|
Brie and Pear Wrapped in Buttery Phyllo and Baked to a Crisp
Tuna Tartare with Shallot, Caper and a Hint of Ponzu Served in Chinese Spoon w/Wonton Crisp
Located at the base of the Blue Mountains in Walla Walla (Washington State), Charles Smith opened his first winery, K Vintners, in December of 2001. The first release, 1999 K Syrah from Walla Walla Valley, initiated the style of winemaking that Charles continues today: small lots of single vineyard Syrahs and field blends of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo and Viognier, all of which are hand-picked, fermented with naturally occurring yeasts and basket pressed. The vineyards of K Vintners are farmed using the most up to date sustainable practices. This Viognier is made entirely from Art Den Hoed’s vineyard in lower Yakima Valley. This site is unique because it sits at 1300 ft. in elevation, making it one of the cooler vineyards in the area with excellent air drainage. K Vintners sources from two blocks of Viognier, the older planted in 2000 and the newest planted in 2006. The 2018 vintage was incredible! This outstanding vintage began mild followed by a long and dry ripening season in the fall. This enabled them to hang the fruit to reach optimal ripeness without losing acidity or increasing sugars. The wines from 2018 are exceptional in many ways, from the great expression of the whites to the beautiful refinement and complexity of the reds. There are notes of honeysuckle, Asian pear, lilac and wisteria. This seductive wine is elegant and layered with white peach, apricot, melon, apple blossom and cool stone. It is mouth-filling and fresh. A sophisticated beauty.
|K Vintners Viognier 2018
Romaine, Cucumber, Feta, Pickle Onion, Artichoke Hart, Heirloom Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Their original thought was to be a one wine brand, with a single-minded vision to produce the best value-priced Cabernet Sauvignon in America. How do you go about this? Traditional winemaking. Natural fermentations. Barrel-aging. Plus, bottling unfiltered and unfined. In essence, making the wines in small batch winemaking integrity, but doing so on a larger scale. The wine is black. The label definitively says, "This is Cabernet Sauvignon." With the Cab, you know who made this wine: Charles Smith. There is also the single vineyard, single expression, Bordeaux varietals (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) produced in very limited quantities. 27% of this Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Goose Ridge vineyard. With a first harvest in 1999, Goose Ridge’s 2,200-acre vineyard receives less than 8 inches of rainfall annually. It is a gently sloped, south-facing site adjacent to Red Mountain. Long, warm summer days and cool nights produce grapes noted for their ripe, rich character. 20% comes from Art Den Hoed Painted Hills vineyard. Located in Yakima Valley on the south side of the valley on a North facing slope, located at an elevation of 1400 feet. The vineyard is primarily planted to Cabernet Sauvignon on a 7x4 spacing and VSP trellis on a fine silt loam over volcanic ancient soil. 17% is from Badger Mountain vineyard. Planted on the southwest slope of the mountain, the vineyard is between 780 and 950-feet elevation and the soils are sandy silts affected by the Missoula floods. The wines produced by this vineyard are dark with black fruit and provide beautiful texture. 14% comes from Frenchman Hills vineyard. Planted in 1998 and about a 30-minute drive north of the Wahluke Slope, one of the warmest areas in the Columbia Valley. However, Frenchman Hills vineyard is a cooler site, partly because of its higher elevation at 1650 feet. The remaining parts of this wine come from Coyote Ranch (9%); Goon Mountain (3%); Olsen Brothers Vineyard (3%); Eagle Butte (3%); High River (2%); and Upland Vineyard (2%). 2017 was a fantastic year for making wine with a cool spring and a fair amount of rain. Washington had an ideal spring for heathy vines. The moderate temperatures during summer were perfect for small clusters and yet delayed veraison into the fall where Substance had a consistent ripening season that allowed them to hang the fruit for perfect tannin and flavor without losing acidity or acquiring too much alcohol. Overall it was a vintage to remember. This Cabernet Sauvignon is opaque, deep, dark and dense. It has astounding depth in color and flavor with blackberry, black plum and cigar box. It is silky smooth and continues long with pencil lead and wet earth.
|Substance Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Crispy Chicken Thigh with Julianne Vegetables and Siracha Glace over Rice Cake
Mullan Road Cellars is a project led by Dennis Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars to produce first class wines from the unique microclimates of Washington State, drawn by the high quality of wines coming out of the Columbia Valley. The grapes for Mullan Road Cellars Red Blend come from several outstanding, low-yielding vineyards in the Columbia Valley, including the famed Seven Hills Vineyard, as well as Stillwater Creek Vineyard and the Corfu Crossing Vineyard outside Royal City, an area soon to be designated the Royal Slope appellation. The winemaker is Aryn Morrell, a Washington native who spent years making wine in Napa Valley with prestigious wineries such as Silver Oak Cellars, Joseph Phelps, Quintessa and Chappellet before returning to Washington in 2007. This Bordeaux-style Red Blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The wine aged 18 months in 34% new French and American oak. It was awarded a Gold Medal in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This wine has initial aromas of fresh black cherry, cassis, vanilla bean and juniper berry, which make way for deeper scents of sweet blackberry pie and dried strawberry. The palate offers concentrated flavors of blackberry, blackcurrant and dark cherry with a touch of spice. It’s framed by firm, but silky tannins for balanced elegance.
|Mullan Road Cellars Red Blend 2016
Blackened Sirloin Over Potato Cake, Fried Leek with Rosemary and Green Pepper Corn Sauce
Located at the base of the Blue Mountains in Walla Walla (Washington State), Charles Smith opened his first winery, K Vintners, in December of 2001. The first release, 1999 K Syrah from Walla Walla Valley, initiated the style of winemaking that Charles continues today: small lots of single vineyard Syrahs and field blends of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo and Viognier, all of which are hand-picked, fermented with naturally occurring yeasts and basket pressed. The vineyards of K Vintners are farmed using the most up to date sustainable practices. 54% of this Syrah comes from the Northridge Vineyard which is represented by Koehler loamy fine sand over cemented silica; ancient pre-flood soils, a very unique 92-acre site on the Wahluke Slope. It was first planted in 2003. The remaining portion of this wine comes from vineyards owned and farmed by the Milbrandt family. This vineyard is a vigor limiting mix of stone strewn sand transitioning over the first two feet of soil to deep glacially deposited gravel. These soils are extremely well drained, allowing total control of the canopy. The 2016 vintage started early and warm in Washington State. When summer arrived, the season saw cooler evenings that helped retain acidity, extended the growing and ripening period into September and October. This allowed the fruit to gain more complexity and deeper charm without sacrificing the acid or producing higher alcohol content. The vintage has created deeply rich and focused wines that will be enjoyed for a long time to come. This wine is compelling, with aromatic dark plum, briny olive and spice cake. It is focused, fresh and exciting to drink. It has notes of black cherry, deep red rose petals and cool earth.
|K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah 2016
Lemon Cream Cake
Sixto, the Chardonnay-only label from Charles Smith and Brennon Leighton, is inspired by the story of musician Sixto Rodriguez (featured in the acclaimed documentary "Searching for Sugar Man"). Charles similarly wanted to resurrect something that was always great, but was waiting to be rediscovered - as in the old Chardonnay vines in Washington State. Being the sixth label that Charles has created (sextus translates to "sixth" in Latin), the name Sixto was a perfect fit. The vineyards Sixto works with are farmed using the most up to date sustainable practices. 42% of this Chardonnay comes from Frenchman Hills vineyard. This vineyard was first planted in 1998 and is about a 30-minute drive north of the Wahluke Slope, which is one of the warmest areas in the Columbia Valley. However, Frenchman Hills vineyard is a cooler site, partly because of its higher elevation at 1650 feet. It also does not easily frost and has limestone and broken basalt soils at the top of the vineyard. 34% is from Moxee vineyard. First planted in 1973, Moxee is located east of Yakima and north of Moxee. The west facing slope is about 1450 feet elevation. The soil is Moxee silt loam with broken limestone. 24% is from Roza Hills vineyard. At an elevation of 1350 feet, in a natural southern sloping bowl that sits on the southern slope of the Rattlesnake Hills, Roza Hills was first planted in 1977. The majority of the vineyard is planted in a loamy silt to chalky soil with broken basalt chunks interspersed. The 2016 vintage started early and warm in Washington State. When summer arrived, the season saw cooler evenings that helped retain acidity, extended the growing and ripening period into September and October. This allowed the fruit to gain more complexity and deeper charm without sacrificing the acid or producing higher alcohol content. The vintage has created deeply rich and focused wines that will be enjoyed for a long time to come. This is what you get when you combine the three best Chardonnay vineyards in Washington State. Sumptuous and graceful, it gives up its flavors of guava, lemon curd, orange blossoms as the palate expands with more and more of the copious good stuff.
|Sixto Uncovered Chardonnay 2016
No holding back here. A powerful co-ferment of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Blackberry, olive, No. 5 perfume, pencil and alpine air rules the nose. Black fruit, cassis, tobacco, nutmeg, seashell and a profound sense of place oozes from this and lights our powerhouse. The KING of the Royal Slope. - Charles 98 Points, Jeb Dunnuck (formerly of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate) “A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah, the 2015 King Coal Stoneridge Vineyard is ample and generous, bursting with aromas of ripe cherries, licorice and sweet tobacco. Full-bodied and lavishly textural, its ripe but succulent core of fruit conceals a rich chassis of fine-grained, savory tannins. Powerful and exuberant but beautifully balanced, with a mere 13.5% alcohol, it’s a head-turning red blend to follow for the better part of a decade.” 95 Points, James Suckling There’s a floral edge to the cabernet on the nose with violets and blue roses, ahead of ripe blackcurrants and red plums. The palate delivers a very vibrant and composed feel with dark berries, laced with lightly roasted coffee. Stylish blend and the pick of the cabernet-syrah quartet at K Vintners. A blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon and 20% syrah. Fine now, but best from 2024.”
|K Vintners King Coal 2016