So describes Saturday, June 26 of this year. After an epic Friday,
Here you see winemaker Debbie Hansen unloading in the midst of Cougar Crest's vineyards
2007 Viognier - Light straw color, great florals and hints of apricot on the nose. Lively acidity, very palate friendly. It was a nice way to start the day's tasting. $20 per bottle. B
2008 Grenache Rose - Lovely salmon color, smelled like flowers and strawberries. Dry, clean fruit and a nice finish. Very food-friendly.
$18 per bottle. B
2007 Cabernet Franc - My first experience with a Cab Franc from Washington. 76% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec.
Garnet in color with cherry, earth and mocha on the nose. Smooth, chalky mild palate that reminded me of fresh berry pie. Hints of spice..cinnamon across the finish. I liked it!
$36 per bottle. B+
Skylite Cellars. Their Syrahs made such an impression that I actually did an entire blog entry devoted to their wines and those of Robert O. Smasne.
You can find that entry here, along with descriptions of the wines I tasted and why I loved them so much. While not as big as Pepper Bridge, Skylite Cellars was incredibly cool and really gave the feel of being a small production winery with a specific focus.
One wine I do want to mention is the 2007 Riverhaven Cellars Syrah. Another small production (150 cases) wine from a relatively new producer. Dana Dibble of River Rock Vineyards produced this wonderful Syrah and was kind enough to pour it for us bloggers.
Dark ruby in the glass, a great nose of dark cherry and vanilla. Blackberries and hints of fig go with smooth tannins and a smoky finish.
$28 per bottle. B+
Finally the last stop was out at Pepper Bridge where we had our lunch and I took some of my favorite pictures of the afternoon. This was the one winery I was somewhat familiar with, having looked into some of the history of Washington wineries before I left on my trip.
The winemaker, Jen-Francoise Pellet spent a great deal of time explaining the sustainable viticulture practices at Pepper Bridge. You can't help but admire a winery so dedicated to making great wine but also taking care of the environment.
The wines poured were:
2009 Amavi Semillon - I found this wonderfully light and refreshing. 86% Semillon, 14% Sauvignon Blanc. It was at once ripe with notes of lychee and pear, and balanced with a deft touch of acidity. $20 SRP. B
2007 Pepper Bridge Seven Hills Vineyard - 52% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc. Great coloration, very ripe notes of red and black fruit. Grippy tannins and a streak of earthy richness that carried through to the finish. $ N/A. B+
2007 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon - 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot. I loved the nose, it was reminiscent of cocoa powder-wrapped blackberries. A slight touch of heat tickled my nostrils. On the palate the wine was very strong, brawny even. The tannins hit fast and hard but devolved quickly into a fleshy mid-palate. I suspect this wine would be better after 2011. $ N/A. B-
2007 Pepper Bridge Vineyard - 48% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot. Smelling of ripe, non-threatening fruit up front, I was reminded of a summer fruit bowl with a dollop of vanilla cream on top. On the palate unfortunately, I felt the tannins up front too much, at the expense of the other elements. My notes show a nice depth of flavor with riper fruit and spice through the mid-palate. The finish was somewhat disjointed, leaving me wishing for a more elegant effect. $ N/A. B
Wrapping this up, we all piled back into the bus, hangovers gone, needing more wine. Luckily there was a wine dinner coming up that night, along with lots of other ridiculously fun things. As I keep saying, the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference was epic. I want to thank all three wineries for taking the time to pour their wines and share their passions with us bloggers. I had a wonderful time at all three places and was happy to expand my knowledge of Washington wine.