We somehow managed to get ourselves out of the house at 10am and that was no small feet considering the amount of Tecate we drank the previous night after dinner. Our first stop was one of the birthday boy’s favorite WA wineries, Five Star. So we piled in the cars and headed to the airport.
Five Star – several wines in their portfolio and they were a bit tough to take at 10am, especially if you don’t like wood. Well made wines and varietally correct but nothing that makes you feel like a rocket scientist. On to the wines that I tried:
2008 Kynzie Rose - Interestingly brown color and very tart. Nice taste bud wake-up call at 10am. Most of our group didn’t like it, but I did in a weird way. 87pts.
2007 Sangiovese – Immediate nose of cherry and wood. Good acidity and medium length. While a decent wine, nothing to write home about. 87pts.
2007 Syrah – Deep blue color with initial aromas of blueberries, blackberries, and toasty oak. My favorite of their wines. Medium bodied with good density. Even some pepper. 89pts.
2007 Malbec – Not sure why some wineries feel the need to make single varietal wines like this. $38 and not even close to worth it. Tannic and harsh. Young with not much going on as far as fruit goes. It may come out with some time. 83pts.
2006 Cabernet – Lots of wood for me and as someone who used to be Mr. Oak Tolerant that was disappointing. Some cassis and eucalyptus with good acidity and decent finish. 88pts.
There were four other wines that I didn’t try as I was trying not to get palate fatigue after our first stop!
Next airport stop has always been one of my favorite WW wineries, Syzygy. Say it five times fast…Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy. Even hard to type five times fast. Zach was pouring three of his wines. The 2006 Red Wine, 2006 Syrah, and the 2006 Cabernet.
2006 Red Wine – Blend of syrah, cab, malbec, and merlot. Great QPR at $24. Juicy wine with a nice core of cherry, black raspberry, and smoke. Smooth tannins and actually a nice elegant wine for the $. 90pts.
2006 Syrah – Talk about waking up the taste buds. Zingy, with mouth puckering acidity and nice ripe fruit. Big wine with integrated tannins and persists on the tongue. 91pts.
2006 Cabernet – Another great wine at $36. Tight, focused blue and red fruit with herbs and hints of toasty oak. This is one of the cabs that had me thinking of a cab renaissance in WA State. 92pts.
On to probably the most highly thought of Washington winery by the critics that I had never had the pleasure to try. Was looking forward to Spring Valley wines the entire week. While I was disappointed by a couple, the highs were very high.
2006 Muleskinner – 100% merlot. A little too oaky for my taste and merlot is always fighting and uphill battle with me to begin with. Plums, cherries, and blackberries try to accent the tannins and oak but lose the battle. This needs time. 88pts.
2006 Uriah – This mostly merlot and cab franc blend has always scored well from the WS but was a slight disappointment for me. Well made with lots of ripe fruit, oak, acid, and tannin. They just seemed a bit disjointed at this time. A little too much tannin and oak but plenty of fruit and acid to forecast a good future for this wine. Good now, but will get better. 90pts.
2006 Derby – 100% cabernet. This puppy was a beast. Ripe blue fruit with vanilla oak and herbs. Loved this wine. The cabs are bringing it! 93pts.
2006 Nina Lee – 100% syrah. Another monster. Deep, dark, purple with typical syrah flavors of blueberries, blackberries but with an edginess that I couldn’t quite explain. Good amount of acidity. This was very good now but will get a bit more complex with age, I would imagine. 92pts.
2005 Uriah – This was the Uriah I was looking for. Supple and elegant, this baby was loaded with ripe dark fruit, some currants, and a lusciousness that kept on through the finish. Tasty stuff! 93pts.
We were a bit late for our next stop, so we grabbed a ton of salumi, bread, oil, olives, and cheese from Salumiere Cesario and drove to see my favorite guy in the valley, Trey Busch, and do some barrel tasting of his 2008’s. If you haven’t heard of Sleight of Hand Cellars, give them a looksie. Great wines made by one of the nicest and rockinest dudes around. We appreciated the time Trey took to sample us through his 2008’s…especially for putting up with our dumb questions (whomever said there isn’t a dumb questions didn’t hear the ones that were asked of Trey!).
2008 Spellbinder – Barrel sample. Dark red/blue with aromas of black raspberries, plums, sweet smoke. One of the best QPR’s in WA. 88-90pts.
2008 Levitation Syrah – Barrel sample. Huge wine. Brooding purple with ripe blue fruit, hints of oak, smooth tannins. This was already seamless and lush. I think he should bottle it now! 90-92pts.
2008 Archimage – Barrel Sample. Can’t remember exactly, but I think this was predominantly cab franc with some merlot and cab. Correct me if I’m wrong Trey. Nice, elegant, dark. I’ve enjoyed this wine in the past and the 08 will be good as well. 89-91pts.
2008 Cabernet – Barrel Sample. Can’t remember the name of this 100% cab. This was my second favorite wine of the trip next to the Reynvaan Contender. So dark and huge. Oodles of blue fruit, currants, cassis, herbs, toast. Weighty in the mouth without feeling heavy. Everything was monstrous but wonderfully in balance. I think all of us wanted to pool our money together and buy a barrel but it just wouldn’t fit in the trunk. 93-95pts.
We then sauntered over to the patio and ate our lunch while drinking Trey’s 2007 lineup and bombarded him with even more asinine questions. I was having fun until Trey brought up the 0-12 record of my beloved DAWGS. It hurt, but I eventually got over it.
2008 Magician’s Assistant Rose – Best rose I’ve ever had. Nuff said. 91pts.
2007 The Magician Gewurztraminer – Maybe a touch too warm but refreshing nonetheless. Crisp apples, pears, decent acid. Good white for $15. 88pts.
2006 The Spellbinder – Another very good wine for the $. Seamless ripe fruit combined with sandalwood and smooth tannins. Great everyday wine. 89pts.
2007 Levitation Syrah – Much better to me than the 06. Sweet fruit with enough tannin and verve to make your mouth happy. While tasty now, I think another couple years and this wine will blossom. 91pts.
Again, thanks very much Trey!! We had a great time. Let’s do it again…soon!
Trust Cellars was the next stop and if you’ve ever been to Trust and chatted up Steve, you know we had fun. Great wines at great prices.
2008 Rose of Cab Franc – Beautiful rose with an even cooler label. Lots of strawberries, watermelon, spice, verve. Wanted to drink the entire bottle since it was 95 degrees out. 90pts.
2007 Syrah Columbia Valley – Blue fruit interwoven with pepper and bacon. Nice interplay of some new oak, tannin, and ripe fruit. Very good and for $28 a steal. 91pts.
2007 Syrah Walla Walla Valley – Not quite as good as the CV bottling but at $28, well worth it. Nose of blackberries, cassis (11% cab), cedar, and even a hint of game. Round fruit with supple tannins. Not quite as much zing as the CV. 90pts.
We then ventured to Va Piano and tried their Semillon, Bruno’s Blend, Syrah, and Cabernet. They were good wines but I didn’t bother to take our think about notes much as I was virtually shot at this point. I even think we went to one more winery, but I just can’t remember which one. Great trip with terrific company, good food, and outstanding wine!!
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