Great NW Wine: Passing Time, Red Mountain, Abacela, Roussanne

Published: Thu, 05/28/15

Great Northwest
Wine of the Week
May 28, 2015 • Vol. 3, No. 21
By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
 Wine of the Week

Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills​

Strange as it sounds, it was Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino who passed along his appreciation for Washington wine to his then-backup Damon Huard — a standout at the University of Washington who spent his early childhood in the Yakima Valley. After talking about it for 15 years, they decided to team up on a boutique winery, and they’ve made a great call in handing off their winemaking to acclaimed Avennia vintner Chris Peterson.

Their debut release is a rookie of the year candidate. It spotlights rising Cabernet Sauvignon site Discovery Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, backed by Merlot from Klipsun (9%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) off famed Champoux Vineyard. A program of 21 months in new French oak barrels creates alluring scents of roasted coffee, black cherry, dark plum, cocoa powder, horehound and blackstrap molasses. The angle to the palate is rich and focused with flavors of blackberry jam on buttered toast and Chukar Cherries. The hallmark is elegance and supreme balance from the midpalate on back thanks to beautifully managed tannins.

Rated "Outstanding" in our blind tastings.

Price: $75

Production: 500 cases

Alcohol: 14.5%

Winery website

Value wine
​of the Week

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 a squared Pinot Gris, Horse Heaven Hills​

There are more than 20 varieties at Jarrod Boyle’s Destiny Ridge Vineyard overlooking the Columbia River, and they all seem to thrive — including Pinot Gris. This bottling under the family's entry-level a squared label marks the sixth vintage of work with this Burgundian grape, and it’s presented in an Alsatian, tropical style often produced in the Columbia Valley. Think of a bowl of Ambrosia Salad backed lychee, pineapple, Bartlett pear and marshmallow. It’s finished with Granny Smith apple and yellow grapefruit pith for complexity and to easily balance the remarkably low residual sugar (0.02%). These can be found at their tasting rooms in Prosser and Woodinville, but it might be best enjoyed this while lodging at ANC's members-only “glampground” — a stone’s from their vinification facility on Sonova Road. This wine also is available on tap throughout the Puget Sound at Sparta's in Bothell, Plate & Pint, The Lodge Sports Bar & Grill, Zeeks Pizza, North Bend Bar & Grill and Collective on Tap.

Price: $14

Production: 678 cases

Alcohol: 13.2%

Winery website

GRANDVIEW, Wash. — The annual Grape to Glass Gala fundraiser for Yakima Valley Community College’s wine program will include a four-course winemaker’s dinner paired with Yakima Valley Vintners’ wines, a silent auction, music and dancing.

Yakima Valley Vintners, YVCC’s teaching winery, is on the YVCC Grandview Campus. The facility offers students studies in the college’s Vineyard and Winery Technology Program.
More than 50 items ranging from wine to vacations will be auctioned. Cost for the winemaker dinner is $75.

This year, two graduates will be featured during the social hour. As a way to celebrate their success, their work with local employers will be showcased.

Events calendar

Check out our events calendar, which shows what is happening in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho wine countries.

Have an event? Please add it.

New plantings change
face of Red Mountain
Red Mountain, Washington's smallest and most important viticultural area, is seeing plenty of action this spring, as hundreds of acres are being planted.

We head out to Red Mountain as grape grower Dick Boushey and winemaker Charlie Hoppes oversee the planting of Fidelitas' 9 acres of red grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon.

Abacela celebrates
20 years in Oregon
Hilda and Earl Jones are celebrating their first 20 years as members of the Southern Oregon wine industry.

In the 1995, the Joneses became one of the first to plant Tempranillo in the Pacific Northwest. Since then, they have been the bold Spanish variety's greatest champion.

The couple also have helped raise interest in such varieties as Grenache, Malbec and Albariño.

Earl Jones, co-owner and director of winemaking, is the subject of this week's Great Northwest Winecast.

Rosenthal takes over
Ste. Michelle white wines
Some 15 years ago, David Rosenthal was studying "Wine for Dummies" in preparation for a harvest job at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley.

Today, Rosenthal has worked his way up to become head white winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, where he oversees the production of more than 2 million cases of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and more.

15 wines for $15
Summer is arriving in the Pacific Northwest, so now is the time to stock up on some inexpensive wines to enjoy during leisure activities.

We've put together a list of 15 Northwest wines that retail for $15 or less.

Seattle's Leidholm
now a coffee somm
Erik Leidholm, one of the Seattle area's leading wine experts - and also a distiller - recently earned certification as the Pacific Northwest's first official coffee sommelier.

Leidholm, who oversees the wine program as such restaurants as Seastar, John Howie and Adriatic, was selected to go to Switzerland for the training after winning the Somm Slam last fall.

Despite the new title, Leidholm is the first to admit that he is far from being the most knowledgeable coffee expert in caffeine-drenched Seattle.

John Simes changes
jobs at Mission Hill
John Simes, longtime winemaker for famed Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna, British Columbia, is stepping down from the position he's held since the early 1990s.

Simes will now head up vineyard operations for owner Anthony von Mandl.

The new winemaker will be Darryl Brooker, former winemaker for CedarCreek Estate Winery, which von Mandl purchased last year.

B.C., Oregon wines
shine at L.A. judging
Wines from British Columbia and Oregon showed beautifully at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition in Southern California.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in Oliver, B.C., five gold medals, including a best-of-class award.

Learning about
NW Roussanne
Roussanne is a rare but up-and-coming white variety in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Washington's arid Columbia Valley.

We take a look at a half-dozen examples from Washington and Oregon.

New wine reviews posted
We have posted several new reviews, including:
  • Panther Creek Cellars 2012 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton
  • Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Union Wine Company 2014 Kings Ridge Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley
  • Boomtown by Dusted Valley 2014 Chardonnay, Washington
  • Flying Trout 2011 Konnowac Vineyard Old Vines Malbec, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley
  • Thurston Wolfe 2012 Zephyr Ridge Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Upland Estates 2009 Tempranillo, Snipes Mountain
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 a squared  Pinot Gris, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Apex Cellars 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Henry Earl Estates 2011 Merlot, Red Mountain
  • Sagelands Vineyard 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Ross Andrew Winery 2011 Lachini Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
  • Roland Wines 2011 Durandel Sangiovese, Yakima Valley
  • Elk Cove Vineyards 2012 Roosevelt Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
  • Elevation Cellars 2013 Imperium Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Cloudlift Cellars 2013 Bacchus Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
  • VanArnam Vineyards 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley
  • Tamarack Cellars 2011 Sangiovese, Red Mountain
  • Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards 2013 Shameless Hussy Viognier, Lake Chelan
  • DANCIN Vineyards 2012 Septette Pinot Noir, Southern Oregon
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