Category Archives: Columbia Gorge

Ross Andrew 2016 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris Impulse

Ross Andrew 2016 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, it’s a nice sunny day today and I’m in the mood for a refreshing white wine. You don’t see me featuring many Washington State Pinot Gris, but when I find a good one I commit to it. I think the only two we’ve offered on Impulse have been the Nine Hats Pinot Gris and the Ross Andrew Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris, and it’s even been a while since we’ve worked with either of those.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of Ross Andrew Mickel’s wines for a decade now. He used to be the assistant winemaker at Betz Family Winery, back in the early 2000’s, and is an all around great guy. When I was working at Matthews Cellars in 2006/2007, Ross would occasionally come by to borrow a piece of equipment. We were among the few in Woodinville with top of the line winemaking gear back then, so many smaller wineries would come to our facility to use our stuff. Because of this, I had several good opportunities to chat with Ross, even work with him a bit in the cellar. I always found him to be very knowledgeable and passionate about wine.

Ross Andrew Winery 2016 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris $18.99 (Regularly $24)

Sitting at an elevation of 1,370 feet in the cooler climate of the Columbia Gorge region of Washington State, Celilo Vineyard is well suited for the production of refreshing and crisp white wines. Ross Andrew has been doing a bang-up job with Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris for several years now, truly expressing its sense of place. It comes from old vines, some older than 43 years, and they make certain to hand-harvest amidst the cool of the morning, so as to keep the newly picked grapes as fresh as possible.

Ross Andrew ages the Celilo Pinot Gris in stainless steel vessels for 4 months, with no oak, so as to maintain the bright and vibrant nature of the grape. During that time, the wine is kept on its lees, so as add a supplementary layer of complexity. It’s an invigorating wine, with just a hint of sweetness in the middle, and a clean dry finish. Starting with clean and pretty fruits of anjou pear, Tuscan melon, white peach, lemon zest and tangerine peel, it moves towards hints of hazelnut, kiwi, and freshly plucked jasmine. The palate has a little bit of residual sugar, which makes for a beautifully viscous wine, and everything is very nicely balanced. An excellent companion to light seafood dishes such as prawns, ceviche, and oysters.

Click here to order the Ross Andrew Celilo Pinot Gris

Ross Andrew 2016 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris

Ross Andrew 2016 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris

Region: Columbia Gorge

Vineyard(s): Celilo Vineyard

Grape(s): Pinot Gris

Aging: 4 Months on Less in Stainless Steel

Drinkability: Now through 2018

Body: Medium

Alcohol: 13.8% by volume

Drink This if you Like: Nine Hats Pinot Gris, Alsatian Pinot Gris

Food Pairing: Prawns, Ceviche, Oysters

Production: 950 cases

Cheers

Yashar

Savage Grace Cab Franc, Chard, Riesling

Balanced Impulse

Savage Grace 2014 Cabernet Franc, 2013 Chardonnay, 2014 Riesling

Fellow wine lovers, I’m really excited to bring to you a fresh batch of wines from Savage Grace Winery. In the almost 2 years of Impulse Wine, Savage Grace has really become a favorite of mine, and based on your feedback it seems that you agree. Michael Savage’s wines have been outstanding, right from the beginning, and it feels like they’re getting even better with each new vintage. The wines he makes perfectly live up to the name Savage Grace, showing the raw and uninhibited side of each grape he vinifies, while displaying an abundance of finesse and humility in each bottle. These single vineyard wines are truly world class, and without a doubt some of best made in Washington State. Below are three of the latest vintages, which have not yet been fully released, putting us among the first to have access to them. I’m also offering a 10% mixed case discount, for those who’d like to mix and match 12 bottles or more of the Savage Grace wines.

Savage Grace 2014 Cabernet Franc $23.99 (Regularly $26)

Some are saying this is the most well made Cabernet Franc from Washington right now, and I would easily agree that it’s the best Cabernet Franc I’ve had in the last year or so. It really captures the essence of the grape – where many others try to make a Cabernet Franc which is hardly discernible from a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a lighter style, weighing in with medium body, and displaying all the classic spicy, dusty, qualities which can be expected from this variety. Michael Savage verily aims to style it after the wines of of Chinon, the most famous of French Cabernet Franc, in the Loire Valley, and really hits the mark. His wine shows much of the traditional earthiness of the Old World, backed by the purity of fruit which Washington so uniquely provides.

Aged in 100% neutral French oak, so there’s no heavy oaky notes, this Cab Franc starts out pretty on the nose, with a bit of flower petals and hints of bubble gum, parallel to cigar box aromatics. The palate is very smooth, again medium bodied, and elegantly structured with nice acid. There are flavors of cedar, black cherry fruit leather, Chambord Liqueur, and fresh blueberries, alongside a hint of rich dark potting soil and rhubarb.
Savage Grace 14 CF
Click here to order the Savage Grace Cab Franc

Region: Rattlesnake Hills AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Copeland Vineyard
Grape: Cabernet Franc
Aging: 5 Months in Neutral French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13.7% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Chinon, Bourgueil, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc
Food Pairings: Well Seasoned Meats, Jerked Beef, Herbed Lamb
Production: 260 cases

Savage Grace 2013 Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay $23.99 (Regularly $26)

This Chardonnay really knocked my socks off with how it continuously opens up with unctuous layers of rich flavor. The fruit comes from.40 year old vines from Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, which is quickly rising to the top of everyone’s lists as one of the best Chardonnay vineyards in the Washington. As with all Savage Grace wines, this is a more finessed style, fermented and aged in 50% Neutral French Oak and 50% Stainless Steel. I would categorize it as falling somewhere in between White Burgundies such as Premier Cru Chablis and upper echelon Macon-Villages.

The wines starts out great, then after several hours, it pretty well melts me into my seat with its smooth and creamy texture. The nose has a toasty quality like pan popped popcorn, lightly buttered, and hints of baked lemon. The palate is very silky, with notes of crisp Fuji Apples, hints of peanut, clean minerality, and bright acidity. It quickly opens up to an essences of freshly baked brioche, a little guava, Anjou Pears, and dried white flowers.

Again, one of my favorite Chardonnays of recent memory, and it gets 91 Points from Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where it was selected as an “Editor’s Choice”.

Click here to order the Savage Grace Chardonnay
Savage Grace 13 CH
Region: Columbia Gorge AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Celilo Vineyard
Grape: Chardonnay
Aging: 50% Neutral French Oak Barrels 50% Stainless Steel for 6 month, 50% ML
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13.9% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Premier Cru Chablis, Macon-Villages
Press: 91 Points from Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Editor’s Choice
Food Pairings: Cheese and Crackers, Halibut with Cream Sauce
Production: 165 cases

Savage Grace 2014 Riesling $19.99 (Regularly $21)

This Riesling has been turning heads all over town. I was recently at a casual wine tasting with several top wine professional from Seattle, and from all over the country, where this was poured alongside a sampling of other top flight Washington wines. Very quickly it became obvious that the Savage Grace Riesling had stolen the show, as everyone was raving about it, and it became the first bottle finished, as everyone went back for second tastes of it. On top of that, it’s rumored that this Riesling is up for an award, a pretty big one, though it’s not yet revealed what.

The wine features just the slightest hint of sweetness, while staying mostly dry, with a very crisp and light finish. It’s full of orange blossom and tangerine skin aromatics, with hints of classic Riesling petrol notes. It gives a tingling hint of spritz on the tongue, followed with a tang of lime zest, stoney minerals, juicy yellow apples, hints of spicy ginger, and lots of vibrant acidity on the finish.

Click here to order the Savage Grace Riesling
Savage Grace 14 RI
Region: Columbia Gorge AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Underwood Mountain Vineyard
Grape: Riesling
Aging: 100% Stainless Steel
Drinkability: Now through 2021
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 10.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Alsatian Riesling, Rheingau Riesling
Food Pairings: Oysters with Mignonette, Spiced Duck, Asian Cuisine
Production: 171 cases

Cheers

Yashar

Analemma Sparkling Blanc de Noir and Rosé

Columbia Gorge Impulse

Analemma 2010 Sparkling Blanc de Noir and 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir

Fellow wine lovers, March is officially “Taste Washington Wine Month,” culminating with the biggest Washington Wine event of the year, Taste Washington, on the 28th and 29th. This year, I’m especially excited for the event, as I am joining the ranks of wine experts, from around the nation, as a panelist for one of the morning seminars. I’ll be on the panel, that Saturday morning, in the seminar spotlighting the Columbia Gorge AVA, along with Matt Stamp MS and three winemakers from the region. If you’re interested in attending and learning more about why the Columbia Gorge might just be the next big thing in Washington Wine, you can get your tickets from the Taste Washington website by clicking here.

Since I’ll be focused on the Columbia Gorge for this seminar, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a wine from the region- something that really demonstrates the breathtaking qualities of Columbia Gorge wines. I can hardly think of anything more appropriate than the wines of Analemma, made by Steven Thompson, who will also be on the panel, as we’ll be tasting and discussing one of his wines then.

Since we’re practically seeing Spring weather on a near regularly basis now, I’ve picked Analemma’s Sparkling wine and their Rosé, both of which are made fully using Pinot Noir grapes from Atavus Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge at the foothills of Mount Adams; which was planted in the 1960’s, making it one of the oldest in the state. This vineyard has always been dry farmed, meaning no irrigation is used, and today it’s also farmed organically.

Analemma 2010 Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine $49.99 (Regularly $56)

Analemma’s bubbly has garnered a lot of attention, with some calling it the best Washington sparkling wine to date, and one of the best on the west coast. This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French Champagne style, and it’s what the French call a Blanc de Noir, which translates to “White from Black”. This means it’s a white wine made from black/red grapes, traditionally Pinot Noir. The wine spends an astounding 42 months on the lees, well beyond anything else I’m aware of in Washington State. This extended aging regimen has helped to jam pack the bubbly full of complexity and nuance. Visually, the wine does show just a slight hint of coppery pink color, extracted from the Pinot Noir Grapes. The nose has just a hint of strawberries, cherry blossoms, and citrus peel. The palate immediately fills your mouth with bubbles and has a smooth creamy texture. There are hints of almond flavors, along with toasty warm notes freshly baked biscuits. The wine has a rich and supple finish, with lots of exuberant acidity, as is the hallmark of many Columbia Gorge Wines.

The Analemma Sparkling Blanc de Noir was chosen by Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Gate as most standout Sparkling wine in his list of Top 100 Wines. Additionally, it was reviewed for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, where it was said to have completely ”floored” the reviewer with its “profoundly complex” nature.

Just 250 cases were made of the Analemma 2010 Atavus Sparkling Blanc de Noir, and today we just 2 cases to offer on Impulse, first come first serve.

Click here to order the Analemma Sparkling Blanc de Noir

Region: Columbia Gorge AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Atavus Vineyard
Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
Aging: 6 months in Neutral French Oak, 42 Months en tirage, disgorged October 2014
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 12.7% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Champagne, high acid wines
Press: Top Sparkling Wine in SF Gate’s Top 100 Wines
Food Pairings: A good sparkling wine goes with almost any food
Production: 250 cases
Availability: 2 cases

Analemma 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir $22.99 (Regularly $25)

It’s never too early in the year for Rosé, and with the series of sunny days we’ve been having, I think it’s high time we share one. The Analemma Rosé of Pinot Noir is made using the same Pinot Noir grapes as the sparkling wine above. Once harvested, the fruit undergoes a long and very gentle whole cluster pressing, which extract just a enough color to make it a Rosé. It has a beautiful yet understated pink hue, and a lovely nose of crushed rose petals and tangerine zest. The palate is rich, creamy, and a little nutty, with lots of crisp acidity and bright citrus flavors. It’s aged for just 6 months in all neutral French oak, to give it extra roundness of texture and hints of brioche flavors from being aged on the lees.

Much like the bubbly above, this Rosé was chosen by Jon Bonné for the San Francisco Gate’s Top 100 wines list- it was among only 4 other Rosés from the west coast which made the list. Additionally Jon Bonné chose it in his list of 10 Key Wines, in a separate article. He described it as being, “As soulful as Rose gets”, with a “feather touch”.

Only 220 cases were made of the Analemma Rosé , and we have just 2 cases to offer today on Impulse, first come serve serve.

Click here to order the Analemma Rosé of Pinot Noir

Region: Columbia Gorge AVA, Washington State
Vineyard: Atavus Vineyard
Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
Aging: 6 Months in 100% Neutral French Oak
Drinkability: Now through 2016
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 12.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Lighter Style Rosé
Press: SF Gate Top 100 Wines
Food Pairings: Salmon, and a Sunny Day
Production: 220 cases
Availability: 2 cases

Cheers

Yashar

Ross Andrew “Glaze” Cab & “Meadow” White

Meadow Impulse

Ross Andrew Winery 2012 “Glaze” Cabernet Sauvignon and 2011 “Meadow” White WIne

Fellow wine lovers, we have a couple of easy-going, every-day drinking, kind of wines from an old pal of mine, Ross Andrew Mickel, of Ross Andrew Winery. For those not familiar with Ross and his off the radar winery, he started his winemaking career at DeLille Cellars and went on to become assistant winemaker at Betz Family Winery, where he worked under the tutelage of Bob Betz, Master of Wine. He then launched Ross Andrew Winery in 1999, and is today one of the few winemakers invited to make wine under the highly revered Grand Reve/Force Majeure label.

Ross Andrew 2012 “Glaze” Cabernet Sauvignon $14.99

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again that 2012 was a superb vintage for Washington State, from which we are seeing outstanding wines from most every region and vineyard. When a vintage is great like this, where great wine is made up and down the range, it’s an ideal situation for value driven wines, as the quality of all wines is at an elevated level.

The Ross Andrew “Glaze” Cabernet is a nice, casual drinking, Cabernet with a bit of Merlot blended in to smooth things out and add extra complexity. It’s aged in just 30% French oak barrels, so it’s far from being an oaky Cabernet, and it weighs in at a very approachable 13.8% alcohol.

The wine shows qualities of red and black berries, hints of Valrhona chocolate, earth, and Grand Marnier, with a touch of ripe plums. Andy Perdue of Great Northwest Wine calls it a “Best Buy”, and I would have to agree.

Ross Andrew Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon

Ross Andrew Glaze Cabernet Sauvignon

Click here to order the Ross Andrew “Glaze” Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State
Grape: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot
Aging: 30% French Oak Barrels for 20 Months
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13.8% by volume
Press: Andy Perdue of Great Northwest Wine calls it a “Best Buy”

Ross Andrew 2011 “Meadow” White Blend $16.99

11.19 The Ross Andrew “Meadow” white is a really fun, unique, and well thought out wine. Year’s ago, Ross told me that he had conceptualized it when inspired by the wines of Marcel Deiss, from Alsace, France. In order to make a white wine with richness and complexity juxtaposed with fresh exuberance, Ross has done what few winemakers do and blended grapes from both Oregon and Washington States. He’s gathered up a handful of traditional Alsatian varieties: mostly Pinot Blanc from the Willamette Valley with bits of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling from the Columbia Gorge, and co-fermented them. The resulting wine is aged for 5 months in 100% stainless steel, to maintain its freshness, while on lees to add a creamy mouthfeel and additional layers of flavor.

The final product is a wine which is rich yet crisp, complex yet refreshing with just a slight hint of sweetness, and truly emulates the wines of Alsace better than most any other from the northwest. When I was the Sommelier at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, I often paired this with our richer seafood dishes such as crab, spot prawns, and squid, and it was extremely well received. It’s an excellent seafood food wine!

A great white to drink during colder times, given its richness, yet also perfect on a sunny day, given its refreshing crispness. The nose is aromatic with white flowers, Asian pear, and a slight nuttiness. The palate is fresh and vibrant with tangerine zest, white peaches, and hints of minerality. In the classic Alsatian style, there’s a touch of sweetness in the mid-palate, which really opens it up to serious food friendliness, then the acidity on the back end helps give it a clean and dry finish.

Sean Sullivan calls the Meadow White, “exquisitely balanced”, giving it 91 Points in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where it is also an “Editor’s Choice” wine.

Ross Andrew Meadow White

Ross Andrew Meadow White

Click here to order the Ross Andrew Meadow White

Region: 53% Columbia Gorge, Washington and 47% Willamette Valley, Oregon
Grape: Mostly Pinot Blanc, with Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer
Aging: 100% Stainless Steel Aged on Fine Lees for 5 Months
Drinkability: Now through 2018
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 12.7% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Alsatian Whites, Marcel Deiss
Press: 91 Points and “Editor’s Choice” from Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Food Pairings: Spot Prawns, Squid, Crab, Lobster, Skate

Cheers

Yashar

ABC Impulse: Ashan Cellars Chardonnays

Fellow wine lovers, it wasn’t long ago that Chardonnay was quickly losing favor with many wine consumers and collectors; like so many big celebrities, it became so well loved that it became hated. However Chardonnay is now demonstrating a strong resurgence after a short period of being loathed by those waving the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) banner. For Chris Gorman, of Gorman Winery, Chardonnay is a passion project, a grape which he fell in love with over his 8 years of making his Big Sissy Chard.

Falling hard for the grape, Gorman is now releasing the very first vintage of a whole new winery, Ashan Cellars, dedicated solely to Chardonnay. He’s able to access fruit from some of the state’s oldest plantings of Chard, from vineyards such as Kestrel Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, with the intention of showcasing Chardonnay’s ability to highlight the nuances it draws from the places where it’s grown.

Ashan Cellars 2012 Kestrel Vineyard Chardonnay, Yakima Valley $44.99

Sourced from a 1972 planting of Chardonnay at Kestrel Vineyards in the Yakima Valley, these are the oldest available Chardonnay vines in Washington State. This is the bigger of the two bottlings we’re offering today, expressing more fruit qualities. Fermented using wild yeasts, this one is aged is 100% new French oak and is generous with flavors of vanilla, lush butteriness and peanut brittle. It’s well suited for someone who enjoys the Napa style of Chardonnay. The fruit is ripe with tropical qualities of pineapples, melons, and honeycrisp apples.

Paul Gregutt, writing for Wine Enthusiast magazine, gives it 95 Points and says the following about it, “This barrel-fermented Chardonnay, from the oldest plantings (1972) in Washington State, displays exceptional concentration and palate weight. Apple pie, pear tart, baking spice, butter and caramel flavors abound. It’s rich and packed with fruit, along with the seductive flavors that aging in new French oak can provide.”

Also, Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report gives it a rating of 5 out of 5 stars, and says the following, “An aromatic offering of Chardonnay with buttery spices, caramel, toast, and tropical fruit. The palate is full bodied, viscous and rich with a palate coating, creamy feel and an extended finish. Not for the faint of heart, it’s an unapologetically bold Chardonnay that delivers the goods. 100% Chardonnay. Barrel fermented and aged 10 months in French oak (100% new). 14.9% alcohol.”

Chris only made 150 case of the Ashan Cellars Kestrel Vineyard Chardonnay, and I’m excited that we have access to 2 of those cases, first come first serve.

Click here to order the Ashan Cellars Kestrel Vineyard Chard

Region: Yakima Valley, Washington
Vineyard: Kestrel Vineyard
Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Aging: Wild Yeast fermented in 100% New French Oak for 10 months
Drinkability: Drink now through 2017
Body: Full bodied
Press: 95 Points from Wine Enthusiast (Editors’ Choice)
5 out 5 Stars from Sean Sullivan of The Washington Wine Report
Food Pairings: Crabcakes, Eggplant Parmesan
Production: 150 cases
Availability: 2 cases

2012 Ashan Chardonnay Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge $44.99

Old Vine Chardonnay planted at Celilo Vineyard in 1973, where the cooler climates and higher elevations of the Columbia Gorge give life to the lighter more elegant Chard of the Ashan Cellars line-up. This one is fermented in only 40% new French, using native yeasts, and it shows less oakiness while aspiring to a more food friendly style with its higher acidity and lower alcohol. It shows notes of ripe lemons and ginger gold apples, with hints of minerality and almost, and a finish of freshly popped pop corn.

Sean Sullivan, writing for Wine Enthusiast Magazine give it 93 point, the highest score he’s ever award to a white wine. He has the following to say about it, “With the Wente clone from the original 1973 plantings at this vineyard, it’s a moderately aromatic, nuanced wine with candy corn, summer squash, lemon butter, mineral and spices. The palate is textured and rich yet restrained with a vein of lemony acidity that runs from head to tail with a lingering finish. Walks the balance beam exceptionally well.”

The Ashan Cellars Celilo Vineyard is great for someone who prefers the French style of Chardonnay, as this is a Washington interpretation of Montrachet. Gorman only made 150 cases, and we have been granted access to 2 of those cases, which we are offering first come first serve.

Click here to order the Ashan Cellars Celilo Vineyard Chard

Region: Columbia Gorge, Washington
Vineyard: Celilo Vineyard
Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Aging: Barrel fermented in 40% new and 60% Neutral French oak using native yeasts.
Drinkability: Drink now through 2017
Body: Medium
Press: 93 Points from Wine Enthusiast (Editors’ Choice)
Food Pairings: Seared Halibut, Chicken Caesar Salad
Production: 150 cases
Availability: 2 cases

Groovy Impulse: WT Vintners 2012 Grüner Veltliner

Fellow wine lovers, you may have caught wind of Gruner Veltliner’s rising popularity. It’s become so trendy in some places that it often goes by the name “Gru-V”. Aside from its recent position under the spotlight, Gruner is definitely a grape worthy of filling our glasses. It’s very versatile when it comes to pairing with food, it’s a great value, and an ideal white wine for winter.

WT Vintners 2012 Underwood Mt Vineyard Grüner Veltliner $18

Many of you enjoyed our previous offering of WT Vintners Syrah, and have contacted me wanting to try other selections from them. If you missed my previous write-up of winemaker Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen and want a little background info you can read my original profile on him and the winery here. Suffice it to say that Jeff is Sommelier-turned-winemaker and head Somm at the award RN74 Restaurant downtown. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of the best and most well respected Sommeliers in Seattle.

Jeff is a lover of the Old World tradition in winemaking, with lower alcohol levels, higher acidity, less fruity flavors, and more mineral and earth. His love of these elegant food friendly wines is perfectly reflected in his Syrah and Gruner. He’s reached out to cooler sites in Washington to source his grapes; in this case the sub-alpine climate of Underwood Mountain Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. The high altitude here keeps the grapes out of the high heat while the southern exposure bathes them in plenty of sun, making for grapes which are ripe and complex and relatively lower in sugar. The WT Gruner comes in at 12.6% alcohol, among the lowest I’ve seen for a dry Washington white wine.

In order to maintain the bright freshness of the wine, Jeff fermented and aged it in 75% Stainless Steel drums. The other 25% is done in neutral French oak barrels, with the lees being stirred regularly, giving it a fuller body and mouth coating viscosity. It’s bottled unfiltered so as not to strip away any of the subtler notes, which means it can have just a bit of sediment towards the end, which is well worth it.

The WT Gruner is a brilliant platinum color and alive with vibrant acidity. On the nose there are suggestions of white flowers and nectarines, then the palate displays a tinge of white pepper, and yellow apples and pears up front. The mid-palate has depth with earthy lentils and freshly ground ginger and it finishes off with a drizzle of wild honey and just a tiny hint of spritz. Jeff made only 110 cases and today 10 are available.
WT 2012 Gruner
Region: Columbia Gorge AVA, WA
Vineyard: Underwood Mountain
Aging: 75% Stainless Steel, 25% neutral French Oak
Drinkability: Now through 2016
Production: 110 cases
Availability: 10 cases

Click here to order the WT Gruner

Flying Impulse: Phelps Creek Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris

Fellow wine lovers, it seems the deeper I dig for off the beaten path and undiscovered wines, the more I find myself hovering towards the Columbia Gorge, where great things are happening on a regular basis.

Phelps Creek Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris $14.99 (Regularly $24)

Some growing regions in Washington could be said to be too hot for a grape like Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) which tends to favor cooler climates like Northeast Italy, or the Alsace region of France. This is exactly why the Columbia Gorge is ideal, with its windy weather and proximity to the cooling flow of the Columbia River. This one is plucked from the volcanic soils of the Annala Family Vineyard.

Phelps Creek is owned and operated by Bob Morus who, when not tending to the vines, flies Boeing 777’s internationally; that’s pretty handy considering the secret behind Phelps Creek wines comes all the way from France. Since 2007, he’s been working closely with Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Marc Roy, a highly held Burgundian Estate within the village of Gevrey-Chambertin. She flies over several times a year to check on the wines and guide their production, offering up the wisdoms she uniquely posses as a fourth generation winemaker. With the addition of her expertise, Phelps Creek presents beautiful wines, with elegant balance and outstanding longevity.

This Phelps Creek goes directly to my list of favored Northwest Pinot Gris, with its crisp and mouth watering acidity, rich nutty flavors, and aromas of yellow apple and anjou pear. It’s perfect to not only pair with food, but also an ideal wine for cooking because it’s affordable and complex, and will liven up the flavors of your dish with its lemony acidity.
Phelps Creek 2010 PG
Region: Columbia Gorge AVA
Vineyard: Annala Family Vineyard
Food Pairings: Butternut Squash, Turkey, Prawns, Shellfish
Drinkability: Excellent now and will be drinking great for about another year
Availability: 7 cases

Click here to order the Phelps Creek 2010 Pinot Gris