We spent two – too short days in the Walla Walla region of Washington State on the way to the Tri-cities area. Walla Walla is a wonder – as in I wonder why we have not visited sooner — wonder how we can move here??
We found a decent RV park – RV Resort Four Seasons nicely located within the area. Once we set up camp we realized the number wineries (170?) in the region. We needed to explore and fast! We only had two days to make it happen!! Bring on the Malbec, Merlot and Cabs!!
Stop Number 1 was Reininger Wineries in the Western region. We had a tasting hosted by Ms. Hannah who poured five tastes for Donald & I. We could have spent much more time tasting there – we enjoyed the space and the hospitality!! All wines are small production — First wine we really liked was the Washington State Semillon 2012 – done in stainless – with touch of tropical fruit woven with grass aromatics. The acid impact on the palate brings out the honeydew grass and melon notes of the grape. A good dry wine to enjoy with light dishes. Next up was the Helix – blend of 52% Mourvédre, 31% Cinsault 17% Grenache aged in French oak lighter red fruit flavors. At first taste you might get hints of strawberry, pomegranate and dirt earth followed by toast and more good fruit. Third up was the Cabernet Sauvignon – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and a tough of Petit Verdot lots of fruit notes with this Cab Sav on the front and back end – great deep purple color as well. Great with any rich meat dish. Love the CABSAVs here in Walla Walla – had no idea they were this good! Finally at Reninger was Mr. Owls blend – named after Mr. Raoul who has been a part of the Reninger team for a long time. Raoul morphed into Mr. Owl as the pronunciation of Mr. Raoul was too challenging for the Reninger kids. We tasted additional wines – these were our favorites…..
We could have hung out with Hannah all afternoon – but we had more to explore. Onto the next tasting room!
Next – we headed onto Long Shadows – one of the most-acclaimed wineries in the area.
Long Shadows is unique – Allen Shoup, head of Chateau St. Michelle brought together seven highly acclaimed vintners from the major wine regions of the world to Washington State, each an owner-partner in a unique winery dedicated to producing Columbia Valley wines that showcase the best of this growing region.
The wines are stellar – and in addition to the wines, Long Shadows collectively has won numerous awards, including recognition as Food & Wine magazine’s “Winery of the Year.”
Among our favorite Long Shadow wines:
Pirouette – Philippe Melka and Agustin Huneeus, Sr. teamed to combine the traditions of old world winemaking, the advancements of new world technology, and small lots from Washington State’s finest vineyards to craft this great red blend – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc & a small amount of Malbec. Fresh, intense black fruit character in the grapes – deep in color with intense ripe plum, black licorice and cedar – oak and mocha with a long, supple finish.
Pedestal is a great CAB SAV made by Randy Dunn formerly of Caymus wines produces small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley’s finest vineyards. This wine has flavors and aromas of blackberry cobbler and roasted rosemary are with a core of vibrant fruit. Deeply concentrated, yet soft on the palate with a firm mouth feel that coats the palate. Has an appealing texture and long, refined finish.
Finally, from Long Shadows we enjoyed Feathers 2010 deeply inky in color with vibrant aromas of wild blackberries, crushed rock, smoked meats and spicy oak. Concentrated dark fruit flavors are accented by a savory mid-palate and excellent acidity that provides a seamlessly balanced finish. Long Shadows creates some seriously great wines served in a lovely tasting room. This was my favorite winery of Day 1 in Walla Walla.
Finally, we visited L’Ecole 41 – a much acclaimed winery in the same area.
Their Estate Syrah Washington State’s climate and soil is ideally suited to maximize the varietal characteristics of Syrah. Crafted from some of the earliest Walla Walla Valley plantings, their Estate Syrah manifests old world attributes of earth, spice and game in combination with the new world profile of bold, expressive and concentrated fruit.
Washington State’s climate and soil is ideally suited to maximize the varietal characteristics of Syrah. Crafted from some of the earliest Walla Walla Valley plantings, the Estate Syrah manifests old world attributes of earth, spice and game in combination with the new world profile of bold, expressive and concentrated fruit.
L’ecole estate Merlot blend centers around aromas of cedar, black fruit, and coffee. Flavors of black cherry and plum create a complex mid-palate ending with elegant, dusty tannins lingering on a mineral-rich finish.
L’Ecole No 41 is recognized as one of Washington State’s top producers of premium Merlot and this estate vineyard blend represents our best. The elegance and old world structure of Seven Hills Vineyard adds complexity to the earthiness and minerality of the basalt soil from Ferguson.
Walla Walla wines are great. A huge surprise and the area itself is a delight. Oh! and really inexpensive tastings – typically $5.00 or maybe free!