Through the first 17 years of this publication, we have put on a lot of fun and fascinating wine judgings. This might have been the most exciting yet, as we took the opportunity to taste styles of wines that are just now emerging on the Northwest wine landscape.
We put out a call for red Rhône blends and red Rhône varietal wines, minus Syrah. We received an astonishing 125 wines, half of which were blends. Our judges had the opportunity to taste through wines that could well play an important role in the future of the Washington, Oregon and Idaho wine industries.
The Rhône Valley is in southern France and follows the Rhône River. It is separated into two regions: the northern and southern Rhône. The north is cooler, and the only red wine grape permitted there is Syrah. In the south, which is much more Mediterranean in climate, also is much more diverse, with up to 10 red varieties allowed.
Several of these grapes have made their way to the New World, particularly Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. But we also are seeing lesser-known grapes such as Cinsault, Carignan, Counoise and Petite Sirah.
Red Rhône blends
Traditionally from France’s Rhône Valley in southern France, these styles of reds are a contrast to the big, brooding wines of Bordeaux or the elegant, ethereal reds of Burgundy.
In the New World, this category of wine is known as “GSM,” which stands for the three most common grapes used in the blend: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. However, other Rhône varieties also find their way into the mix, including Counoise, Cinsault, Carignan and Petite Sirah.
Cairdeas Winery 2011 Greine, Columbia Valley, $38: Based on the north shore of Lake Chelan, this Rhône-focused winery has crafted a delicious blend of Syrah (co-fermented with Viognier) and Petite Sirah that offers up aromas and flavors of boysenberry, blueberry and vanilla ice cream. It’s all backed with bold tannins. (75 cases, 13.5% alc.)
Cairdeas Nellie Mae Viognier 60% Roussanne 40% Columbia Valley 2012 $22
(Excellent) An aromatic wine with orange peel, pear, and tropical notes. The palate is dry, full bodied, weighty and textured with a lingering finish. 60% Roussanne, 40% Roussanne. Lawrence and Antoine Creek vineyards. Aged in stainless steel. 13% alcohol. 100 cases produced.
Cairdeas Reserve Nellie Mae White Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $26
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with pear, citrus, and abundant barrel notes. The palate is full bodied with sweet fruit flavors and a lot of texture and viscosity. 60% Viognier, 40% Roussanne. Lawrence and Antoine Creek vineyards. Barrel fermented in new French oak and aged in stainless steel. 13.3% alcohol.
2012 marked a return to warmer times in Washington. After two successive cool vintages – which made for some thrilling white wines, especially in 2010 – 2012 tracked close to historical averages in terms of temperature.
One of the notable aspects of the vintage was a 100-day spell with no measurable precipitation from July through mid-October. While large amounts of rainfall are never particularly common in eastern Washington, where most areas receive less than ten inches of precipitation annually, this was unusual and certainly contributed to the resulting wines, white and red.
Washington white wines from 2012 are, generally speaking, considerably richer in style than their 2010 and 2011 vintage counterparts. Many are also higher in alcohol, some considerably so. As I noted here, while many 2010 and 2011 vintage red wines are noted by having listed alcohol levels under 14%, many white wines from the 2012 vintage have alcohol levels over 14%. Some of these wines were able to balance the higher alcohol levels with richer fruit flavors. Others were not.
Below is a summary of 2012 vintage wine reviews from Washington, including wines previously published as well as new reviews. I have also included at the bottom a listing of currently published Wine Enthusiast Washington white wine reviews from the 2012 vintage. You can read the individual tasting notes, which are freely available, by searching for them here. Note that Wine Enthusiast also recently launched an impressive mobile phone application that also makes the reviews accessible on the go. Find it here.
read full article – http://www.wawinereport.com/2013/12/the-march-of-2012-vintage-washington.html
Beyond this year’s Top 100 list, these 20 wines in the $25-and-under range were a cut above the rest, (listed alphabetically).
Cairdeas Winery Nellie Mae White Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $22
Lithe, with vital acidity and a sense of transparency to the black cherry and thyme flavors, finishing with finesse. Fine tannins. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. Drink now through 2016. 150 cases made. –HS
This refreshing style emphasizes fruit and deftness over power and oiliness, offering lingering pear and spice flavors. Drink now. 100 cases made. –HSBuy Nellie Mae
Smooth, round and generous, with clove- and cinnamon-accented poached pear flavors, lingering enticingly. Drink now. 100 cases made. –HS
White Rhone Styles
DOUBLE GOLD 2011 Cairdeas Winery Nellie Mae (Viognier/Roussanne), Columbia Valley Read more
DOUBLE GOLD 2011 Cairdeas Winery Roussanne, Columbia Valley