Walla Walla weekend

Just got back from a wind-blown two-day tasting trip to WW, so my tasting notes are scattered. I’ll organize and post them later.
Some quick thoughts:
Everything from Long Shadows was excellent. They had the most impressive lay out of wines and food, along with friendly pourers and a good guitarist to boot. Really was a great way to begin the trip.
Going from heaven to hell in twenty minutes: K Vintners was a major disappointment, from the vibe, to the loud music, to the mediocre wines.
Walla Walla Vintners, the Spring Valley tasting room, Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole were all enjoyable experiences. Cougar Crest, not so much.
Enjoyed our visit with Caleb at Buty. All the wines were very good.

Any thoughts from other board members who were there?


fred - what was k vintners pouring? thanks

I tasted the '09 Viognier, the '08 Milbrandt Syrah (preferred the '07) and the '07 Guido (which I found to be too bitter at this time).
The Boy and the Phil Lane were, to my knowledge, unavailable for tasting.
It was towards the end of the day (Sunday) and the pourer seemed disinterested and burned out.

We were up there 3 1/2 days Fred.

I didn’t take detailed notes, primarily because we now have 3 and 4 year old daughters that are there with us, so I end up doing a lot more “speed tasting” of our favorites than the casual meander through 15 wineries in a day. All of these wineries are some of my regular stops, except as noted.

Day 1 -

Waters Winery - I really like Waters, I think Jamie Brown makes some great wines. They released the 2007 Cab Sauv and the 2009 Rose, which were our primary targets for the visit, but they were also tasting through the 2007 Single Vineyard Syrah’s that are still available and some of their other offerings. I already loaded up on the Syrah last Nov, so bought some Rose for the summer and some Cab. The real surprise was the tasting of the 2007 21 Grams Cab Sauv. I’ve had previous vintages, but I tasted this and was blown away. Easily the best wine I tasted in WW this weekend, amazing balance and finesse. Had not been a buyer before, but left with a bottle this time. [welldone.gif]

Reynvaan Family Vineyards - Tasted through the Barrel samples (which had actually just been bottled) of the 3 Syrah’s produced by Reynvaan. These still have some of the best noses of wines in WW, with The Unnamed and In The Rocks showing their Viognier component with beautiful floral noses, and The Contender having a bit more beauty meets beast in the nose. I felt all of them were a bit tight on the palate, which could have been my palate or some shock from recently going from barrel to bottle. Based on the '06s I think the '07’s are all that and more, will be interesting to see in Nov.

Sleight of Hand - Trey had the Rolling Stones gracing the Tasting Room when I dropped in, some nice tunes to taste through the lineup. The Levitation Syrah was really showing well, maybe it was just gloating at the recent WS 93. Tasted the '07 Idle Hands Syrah, the collaboration with Mark Ryan winery - very very nice, it had some nice integration from when I first sampled it last Nov. and is a buy in my book.

Rasa Vineyards - I still say this is one of the most under-radar wines in all of WW and WA State in general. The QED and Principia Reserve Syrah remain two of the best wines I tried all last year, and they were showing very nice from the bottle with some age. They released a varietal Mourvedre (Minick Vineyard) and a Riesling (Sagemoor Vineyards). The Mourvedre is hands down the best single varietal expression of this I have had, none of the rough edges that can go with this grape. It was intended to be a blending grape but so many people raved on the barrel samples that they bottled it alone. The Riesling comes from some of the oldest clones in the state, and was a very crisp and pronounced. QPR on all of these wines is awesome. flirtysmile

Long Shadows - Didn’t have time to do the whole tasting lineup, but compared the '06 and '07 Feather Cab (Dunn) and '06 and '07 Pedestal Merlot (Rolland), picked up some of the Feather and Pedestal. The '07’s were really nice, though I’m not feeling the excitement factor anymore on these wines. I am maintaining a few verticals, but scaling back.

Leonetti Vineyards - First year we cleared the list and made it through the mythical front gate as one of the chosen few on the mailing list…well, us and the 37 other SUV’s lined up for 30 minutes on Saturday morning. They were pouring the '08 Merlot and '07 Cab Sauv. Amazing property, amazing hospitality, the wines…I’m still Jury is out on them. I have never had the wines before, so I have no reference points to compare to. I thought they were a bit thin and had some heavy oak that I have heard from others. However, some I know who tasted them said they were closed down and would be stellar in 8 years, the best they had ever tasted. Who knows, time will tell.

Tried to get into Corliss, we were on the mailing list and I thought they had a release event. Doors shut, no soup for you! Not sure what is up with this operation, they sure seem elitist, more so than Leonetti. [swearing.gif]

Wanted to get up to K but timing didn’t work out. I’ve grown less and less a fan of their wines the past few years. Usually in the TR they are pouring the lower end Charles Smith wines, and the typical K Syrah’s, Ovide, Roma, etc. Don’t expect to get a swig of Royal City…

Beyond that we visited 5 different parks and playgrounds in Walla Walla, got our Ice-burg Cheeseburger fix, and the Creektown Cafe Key Lime pie fix.

Back to the grind now…

Thanks for the detailed write up, Scott. It was a bit painful staying in PDX last weekend… would have loved to have been in WW!

Glad to hear your impressions of the Rasa Vox Populi. I bought some, based completely on the strength of the Principia I tasted in Nov… doesn’t sound like I’ll be disappointed at all.

Scott - great notes. Did you try Tranche, the 2nd of Corliss by chance?

As for Leonetti, rest assured, they make great wines and when you get around to trying a mature one, you’ll be sucked in. Congrats on making the list. The Figgins family makes a good wine…thats for damn sure.

BTW, drinking an 02 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval tonight - very ‘French’ in nature. Likely due to the Cab Franc/Merlot elements, but its pretty damn tasty.

Would you really expect to get a swig of the Royal city?

The rule of thumb is go to K in the morning or sooner rather than later.

So for Leonetti trying their Cab and Merlot were no problem but K pouring it’s normal swag which consists of bout 6-8 wines isn’t enough?

By the By the tasting room shows 3 CS wines and about 5 K wines.
Why is K so Polarizing? I don’t get it…


I didn’t get over to Tranche, unfortunately the wine weekend has new dynamics the past few years now that we have children in tow. To be fair to Corliss, I found their Spring Release invite when I got home buried on my desk, they had an event Friday that I missed thinking they would be open Saturday. My bad…

As far as K, agree hit them early if possible. I have been there more than one afternoon with limo/busses in the parking lot, not much fun with 30 people in a 15’x15’ tasting room. As far as the wines, to each their own. I have a lot in my cellar from the past vintages, my buying is very limited the past few times I’ve tasted them, just not my thing anymore.

K is polorizing because the owner/winemaker is larger than life. When he is feeling good in the tasting room on these type of days, K is a great place to be. But when Charles is in one of his moods, the atmosphere there can suck. I’ve been there several times on both kind of days and it certainly can affect how you feel about the wines.

As someone who has probably drank more than 50 bottles of K wines, they can seem to have quite a bit of variation. Some bottles have been freakin’ fantastic, while others have just been…ehhh, and when you are spending $50 on a bottle you don’t want each bottle to be good. I’ve been a fan for a long time but have even backed off my purchases since around 2006, although I’ve just bought some 07 MCK and 08 Boy. We’ll see how they taste…