Thursday, October 15, 2009

Washington Wine Road Trip, Day 1 Afternoon

After an incredible morning at Spring Valley Vineyard we boarded the Born To Run bus & headed back towards Walla Walla. The landscape is beautiful, stark & desolate but beautiful.

We returned to our second day homebase, The Marcus Whitman Hotel, for a comparative tasting of rieslings from Washington & other areas of the world.

Master Sommelier Shayn Bjornholm, Director of Education for WA Wine Commission, was our moderator. The panel consisted of Nicolas Quille, winemaker for Pacific Rim; Jim McFerran, of Milbrandt Vineyards; & Michael McNeil, MS from Georgia's Quality Wine & Spirits. The first three wines we sampled un-blind were all from Washington, while the final 6 were blind & were from Austria, Washington, Australia & Germany. We were tasting for Washington's typicity, or trying to discern one, in comparison to the other regions. I actually wrote myself a note immediately after this tasting to "explore rieslings more".

Tasting Notes (sorry Sam...just kidding):

#1 2008 Milbrandt Vyds "Traditions" Columbia Valley. Nose of lemon-lime, jasmine & persimmon. The wine was bright on the palate with an off dry sweetness, full on acidity, zippy, lemon-lime & a luscious lovely finish

#2 2008 Pacific Rim Organic Columbia Valley. Notes of flowers, rubber & white peach. The acid was very light & even though it wasn't a very sweet wine it seemed so because of the lack of acidity.

#3 2008 Apex Cellars Columbia Valley. Nose of petrol, pine resin, lemon jam. The palate was zippy, zingy, bright with notes of ginger, white peach, orange & a deliciously long & luscious finish.

The rest were tasted blind

#4 It had aromas of smoke, rubber, preserved lemon & a slatey/rocky thing going on. The palate had noticeably high alcohol that was out of balance for sure. It was bone dry & had an insignificant finish. I guessed Australia. It was revealed to be Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling 2006.

#5 A hint of barnyard & creamy citrus with very light acid & a soft orange flavor on the finish. I guessed Rheingau...waaaaay off. It was Owen Sullivan Champoux Vineyard 2007. Hmmm. Interesting.

#6 Notes of citrus blossom, jasmine & lemon peel. There was a bright, vivacious acid with a wet rock/slate texture. It was mouthwatering & delicious. I hypothesized that it was from Austria. Wrong again...Washington! Efeste Evergreen Vineyard 2008.

#7 Aromas of rubber & oyster shell with hints of slate. Definitely the sweetest so far with a supple, luscious finish. I guessed Germany. This was the Selbach Oster 2008 Mosel.

#8 Notes of dried orange peel, clove studded pork & lime curd. The palate was completely dry with a full on acidity, a smoky note & a limestone finish. I guessed Austria...wrong again. Domaine Weinbach 2006 Alsace.

#9 Floral aromas with a creamy/marshmallow thing going on. The palate is vibrantly bright with luscious acid, lime notes & a mouthwatering finish. I really just couldn't gauge this one. Kung Fu Girl Evergreen Vineyard 2008. Very surprising.


Nicolas and Elizabeth said...


Thanks for the post. Nicolas here from Pacific Rim. Note that our Riesling was actually 40g/L sugar or 4% RS. By far the sweetest of the whole flight.

Take care,


Michael Hughes said...


Thanks for the info & clarification. Also, thanks for the 1.5 liters of the single vineyard rieslings you poured at Canyon Ranch. Delicious!



Dustin said...

I'm a total sucker for a crisp Riesling... And a big "woot" for some much-deserved attention to my home state's ability to smash a good grape :-)

Michael Hughes said...


You're home state is producing some of the best wine in the world.

Samantha Dugan said...

Great re-cap and perfect tasting notes, not too much and plenty of texture, (wink).