spotlight: Walla Walla
About the same size as the Napa Valley, Walla Walla is buttressed against the beautiful Blue Mountains on the east, Vansycle basalt ridge on the south, and rolling Palouse Hills to the north. Walla Walla means “many waters” and was the name of the local Native Americans who inhabited the valley. It’s a fun name to say—and the tiny town in southeastern Washington has been making a big name for itself, growing from a small wheat farming community at the foot of the Blue Mountains to a world class wine destination with over 100 wineries in just a few short decades. But unlike many of the world’s most famous grape-growing regions, Walla Walla doesn’t specialize in one definitive varietal or style; thanks to a range of soils, elevation, and micro-climates, the area excels at everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Tempranillo to Malbec to Merlot. Truly, a wine to suit every taste. Tonight we’ve got 4 great wines from the region including a ‘Rock District’ Syrah, and a magnum of satisfying Cab. Join us for the tasting anytime between 5-7pm tonight 11/15
LE'COLE NO 41 LUMINESCE
A fantastic wine for many occasions, this one really does exhibit minerality and it has continued to be a standout from the many sauvignon blanc - semillon blends I've tasted over the years. Known as a 'Bordeaux Blanc Blend' this varietal combination makes your seafood taste fantastic. These grapes are coming from Seven Hills Vineyard is planted in the wind-blown loess of geologically young, mineral rich soils. It is one of the oldest and most renowned vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. This season yielded to cooler ripening weather during the fall resulting in unusually low yields, intense concentration, high acidity, and outstanding quality in what will likely become a memorable vintage.
The Chardonnay is a flagship wine for Forgeron Cellars each year the chardonnay comes from a different vineyard. This Weinbau Vineyard Chardonnay is unlike most in Washington as it comes from one of the oldest blocks of Chardonnay planted in Washington State.
The bold nose is full of honeycomb and overtly ripe apricot. The flavors grow in intensity on repeated sips, green papaya, plantain, Meyer lemonade with mint, wax bean + sweet & sour sauce. Harvest Notes: The 2020 vintage started as most years do and harvest was anticipated to be a bit earlier than the previous year. Around July we saw temperatures begin to change, which caused ripening process to slow and result in later picking dates, and we ended up harvesting just a few days apart on most varietals from the previous year. We did experience smoke through the season, but with precautions taken at the winery (bucket ferments) were able to avoid its impact entirely.
WALLA WALLA VINTNERS CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Walla Walla Vintners is owned, managed, and cared for by Scott and Nici Haladay. They are devoted to the crafting of distinctive and delicious wines that are intended to be shared with close friends and family. Scott and Nici’s view of wine is highly influenced by their time living in Australia. With the warm weather down under, they enjoy wines that are bold and expressive of their terroir. Walla Walla’s hot summers allow for the creation of similarly styled wines. They also found their inspiration wines were complete and pleasurable as a result of being the sum of many components. This bottle however, is made primarily with Cabernet sauvignon grapes, with just 8% Petit Verdot, 3.5% Cabernet franc, and 3.5% Merlot, all aged in 57% new oak for 23 months. The resulting wine was filled with black cherries, plums, and raspberries.
THE WALLS MAHANA SYRAH
The Mahana Syrah is a complex, lavish expression of this Rhône varietal from the famed Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. The wine is named after Mr. Mahana who established Freewater, the sister city to Milton in 1889. Milton was a dry town and Mr. Mahana wanted more than water to flow freely! This Syrah is marked by notes of cured meat, olive tapenade and leather. Aged in large format, mostly neutral oak barrels and fermented in concrete, this is a brilliant expression of a very special growing area. We hope Mr. Mahana would be proud!
SPOTLIGHT: COLUMBIA GORGE AVA
The Gorge Wine region is a powerful place.
Just 60 miles east of Portland, the Columbia Gorge AVA lies in the heart of the dramatic river corridor that straddles the Columbia River along the borders of Oregon and Washington.
The climate in the Columbia Gorge AVA is categorized as transitional. The western end of the Columbia Gorge, close to the Cascade Mountains, has a cooler, marine-influenced climate where it rains 36 inches per year. Stretching 40 miles eastward, the climate transitions to continental high desert with just 10 inches of annual rainfall. Throughout the Gorge, elevations of vineyard sites range from sea level to 2,000 feet, which greatly impacts temperatures during the growing season.
The Columbia River Gorge is the only sea-level passage through the Cascade Mountain Range, funneling persistent winds at an average speed of 10-20 miles per hour (16-32 kph) or more, acting as a cooling and drying force to the vineyards.
This extreme variance of climate means the Columbia Gorge AVA can successfully grow a wide range of classical varieties. Wines produced from this region tend to be riper than wines from Oregon’s cooler, western regions and with higher acidity and structure than what occurs naturally in the warmer, eastern AVAs.
ELENTONE 2018 BRUT
Declared ‘The best domestic sparkler I’ve ever had’ by Compass Wine last spring - which is very hard to achieve, these bottles have gained serious popularity in the last 12 months. Chris, an Englishman, has named his wine after the old-english spelling of the hamlet he hails from in the UK -Elentone. This Champagne Method Sparkler has become known and loved for delivering a high standard due in part to its complex process. There is the primary fermentation where a base wine is made, followed by a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This crucial step creates the fine bubbles because of the high pressure in the bottle. The wine is aged, and for premium quality, this translates to a minimum of 36 months to impart the desired aromas and tasting characteristics. The wine is then riddled & finished with a dosage. This wine is 88% Chardonnay from the Columbia Gorge & 18% Pinot Noir. Lemon, lime, green apple, passion fruit, green papaya with a hint of whipped cream mouth feel.
LANDMASS PINOT GRIS 2021
A new wine for the dynamic duo Melanie & Malia behind Landmass, this Pinot Gris comes from the high-elevation site of Underwood Mountain overlooking the Columbia River. Fermented in both stainless steel (80%) and neutral oak, this tangy, crisp, but fruity wine has enormous appeal with fresh green veggies, shellfish & sushi. Melanie & Malia say: “We make energetic wines in the majestic Columbia River Gorge. High-elevation sparkling wine is our passion and main focus, but we also produce a small but thoughtful amount of dynamic still wines that highlight unique vineyards in Oregon and Washington. Our name Landmass is an homage to the significant sites where our fruit is grown, each with its own unique climate, soil, and elevation. These conditions are the natural forces that shape our winemaking approach.
DOMAINE POUILLON KATYDID RHONE BLEND
Domaine Pouillon is located just outside of the charming town of White Salmon, the headquarters for the Columbia Gorge AVA wine scene. They emphasize the viticulture side of their operation and prefer to be known as caretakers of the vines rather than winemakers. They say no two vintages are identical and reflect the unique challenges and triumphs of each season. They have a great line-up of estate wines, but for the Katydid blend, they grab grapes from their neighbors at McKinley Springs Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Horse Heaven Hills AVA is substantially warmer than the micro-climate that is the Columbia Gorge Ava, and is why the two different AVAs have their border. I wanted to throw this bottle in the mix, not only to give my red wine lovers a beautiful treat, but also to show the difference between two neighboring AVAs and how different they can be. 42% Syrah, 38% Grenache, 8% Cinsaut, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Mourvedre
DOMAINE DES TOURELLES
Curveball! Our 4th tasting is not from the Columbia Gorge. It’s actually not from the USA…
I have been on a quest to find a great bottle or two from the Middle East to showcase on our wine list and tonight I invite you to try a red from Domaine Des Tourelles. Located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, Tourelles has been making wine since 1868, the first documented winemaker in the country. Today the vineyard and winery are run by the second generation the Issa & Khoury families, making it the country’s youngest winemaking team running the country’s oldest winery. We’ll be tasting a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Syrah 40%, Cisault 15%, and Carignan 5%.
OCTOBER 11TH TASTING:
SPOTLIGHT ON JAVIER ALFONSO OF IDILICO & POMUM CELLARS:
Pomum Cellars is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Javier and Shylah Alfonso. Originally from the famed Ribera del Duero region in Spain, winemaker Javier Alfonso is determined to showcase a true expression of wine grown in the unique viticultural areas in Washington State. Alfonso arrived in Washington in 1995 in pursuit of an aeronautical engineering degree at the University of Washington where he met his future wife Shylah. They embarked in a rich wine journey together and fell in love with Washington. Pomum’s first commercial vintage was in 2004 and in 2009 they founded their sister winery Vinateria Idilico which highlights Spanish varietals.
Idilico is Pomum Cellars’ sister brand focusing exclusively on Spanish varietal wines grown in Washington State. Idilico is the name of a famous Bull that performed in the Barcelona Bullfight Ring in 2008. He was so “brave” that he earned a pardon and was spared from the Matador’s sword. Needless to say this is a very rare occurrence and a great victory for this magnificent creature. The goal for Idilico wines, is to bring to the consumer's attention the potential of Spanish varietals in the great Washington State vineyards.
In 2019 the Alfonso's acquired Konnowac Vineyard which they had been working with since 2007. Being an Estate Winery means they only produce wines from their own Konnowac site under the Pomum Cellars label. It was originally planted in 1987 and boasts stunning old vine Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These last two varieties may be some of the oldest examples in Washington State. The vineyard Is located at more than 1100 ft elevation in the northwest corner of the Rattlesnake Hills AVA within the larger Yakima Valley AVA. Wines made from Konnowac fruit show unique personality yet maintain focus & varietal purity.
WE WILL BE TASTING:
1. IDILICO BY POMUM CELLARS ALBARIÑO SPANISH STYLE WHITE
Tasty juice from Spanish variety specialists. This Albariño, is from a new 6-acre planting in the cooler area of the Yakima Valley, the right choice for growing a crisp, refreshing white wine. Albariño is a fantastic shellfish pair. The bright citrus and touch of salt enhance the fresh taste of the ocean you get from oysters, clams and other shellfish.
2. IDILICO BY POMUM CELLARS SNIPES MOUNTAIN GRACIANO SPANISH STYLE RED
This is 100% Graciano custom planted near Sunnyside, WA in the Snipes Mountain AVA. A relatively unknown variety from the Rioja wine region of Spain that is primarily used to enhance the color and acidity of Tempranillo blends. It is rarely showcased as a stand-alone varietal wine due to its unreliable late ripening. In eastern Washington it ripens just perfectly due to a warmer climate and produces one of the most unique wines you’ll ever try.
3. POMUM CELLARS SHYA YAKIMA VALLEY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2018
Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Cabernet Franc coming from their estate vineyard. The 2015 from Pomum was the first vintage I tasted and have pursued tasting every vintage since without disappointment. This bottle has slowly inched up in price, but still punches well above it's price in my opinion. A great representation of the Yakima Valley Cabernet game.
4. POMUM CELLARS COLUMBIA VALLEY SYRAH 2019
Syrah is a funny grape in that it often is great shortly after bottling, then takes a turn towards dormancy in flavor for a few years before it comes out shinning again. It really keeps you on your toes and can repeat this cycle for many years. We'll have to taste and see where we think this bottle is at in the Syrah journey. Aromatically dark cherry and blackberry mingle with floral and earthy undertones. These are reaffirmed on the flavor profile and are followed by freshness in the palate and substantial tannin content. The wine should age well and provide pleasure for years to come.
OCTOBER 4TH TASTING
1. Kruger Rumpf Rosé of Pinot Noir
100% Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder), this has a very forward, juicy aroma. bright with depth and movement between families of fruit flavors. Fresh orchard fruits (red apple) and bush berries (raspberries). George Rumpf fermented about 20% of the total in neutral old barrels and aged the wine through winter, to soften the edges of this very crisp vintage, while the rest is in stainless steel. In the family, viniculture has been tradition since 1708. This family owned winery belongs to Germany’s best wine businesses. The “Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter” (VDP)
2. Johannishof Dry Riesling Charta
The Johannishof estate is owned by the Eser family. Their focus is small production, high quality, estate-bottled Rieslings, in all styles. Top vineyard sites in Johannisberg and Rudesheim They own parcels of some of the best vineyards in the towns of Johannisberg (Holle, Klaus, Vogelsang, Goldatzel) and Rudesheim (Berg Rottland), to name a few. Johannishof is a member of the Charta group, which is comprised of about 30 top Rheingau wineries that banded together to promote high quality dry Rieslings.
Medium high acidity. Medium finnish. Nose of green apple, lime and stone fruit. Slightly off dry. Pairs well with shrimp.
3. Hiedler Löss Grüner Veltliner
The Loess Grüner Veltliner is sourced from vines growing on the eponymous loess soils. They have been formed over the millennia by deposits of weathering alpine rock. The mineral-rich and porous soil, in which the vines form a deep root system, characterizes the typical bright fruit and cool spice of this Veltliner. Fruity entrée, with flavors of white flowers, apple, green pears, and subtle nuances of herbs. Fine acidity, bright fruit character with hints of yellow apple. This wine has beautiful texture and is a very versatile food companion.
4. Domaine Mann Sylvaner Mouton Bleu
Domaine Mann, located in Eguisheim in the heart of Alsace wine country, is a family effort, with Jean-Louis Mann and his wife Fabienne for some years now joined by their son Sebastien. The family used to deliver wines to the co-op but began making their own wines in 1998. They’ve farmed their 30 acres of vines organically since 2004, and have been certified since 2008. And with the arrival of son Sebastien, they began taking farming in a biodynamic direction. Their Sylvaner comes from vines that are more than fifty years old and is aged on the lees for a year in stainless steel; aromatic and expressive on the nose, it shows crisp green apple and ripe pineapple on the palate.
We are located at
10 FRONT STREET SUITE 101 | Friday Harbor, WA
San Juan Island
(Below Downriggers Restaurant)
Open 4-10pm | Closed Sunday, Monday
Reservations & Walk-ins