Though it may not seem so today, there are a lot of parallels between the Washington and Idaho wine industry. Both have a history dating back to the 1800s, with the Hudson’s Bay Company planting grapes at Fort Vancouver, Washington in 1825, and Royal Muscadine grape cuttings being cultivated in Lewiston around 1864. In the beginning, Idaho wineries actually out-performed our neighbor to the west, earning national recognition before Washington.
By the turn of the century, both states were making award winning wines, but in 1919 national prohibition ended all that. (Idaho got a head-start here as well, enacting a statewide liquor ban in 1916). Repeal came in 1933, but it took a few decades before either state had commercial scale vineyard plantings (the 1960s in Washington, the ‘70s in Idaho).
That’s where the comparison ends. Washington wineries expanded rapidly, and continue to with a new winery opening nearly every 15 days. Today they number over 750, and Washington ranks second nationally for premium wine production. On the other hand, their were only 11 Idaho wineries in 2002, and though we’ve had a mini-renaissance, we still number just over 50. Still, if there is competition, it’s a friendly one, in fact Washington sourced Idaho grapes after one of their occasional, devastating freezes. So this month, we’re celebrating and highlighting some worthy wines from Washington.
2012 Alexandria Nicole D8NYT White, $10.99
2010 Alexandria Nicole D8NYT Red, $15.99
Alexandria Nicole Cellars is dedicated to producing small lots of hand-crafted wine from their own Destiny Ridge Estate Vineyard. This 267 acre estate is located high above the bluffs on the Columbia River, near the town of Paterson, Washington where the grapes thrive in the soils and climatic conditions of the Horse Heaven Hills.
The D8NYT White is an off-dry Riesling with luscious aromas of dried apricot, honeysuckle and baked apple. Delightfully fresh, the palate shows bright and crisp flavors of peach, tropical fruit and freshly squeezed lime juice. With its balanced acidity and a touch of sweetness, Alexandria Nicole’s estate Riesling is mouthwatering and precise. Serve chilled for casual sipping or pair it perfectly with glazed ham, spicy Thai dishes or pate de fois-gras.
Offering aromas of bright red fruit, the D8NYT Red shows balance and purity with an integrated, subtle oak accent. Opens with a lush entry of black cherries, cranberry, peppercorn and crushed herbs. The long blackberry, cedar and mineral kissed finish shows polished tannins. Very voluptuous and satisfying, it’s drinking well now, but is structured to develop over time
2012 Smasne Farm Girl White, $13.99
2011 Smasne Farm Boy Red, $15.99
Since his first vintage in 1996, Robert O. Smasne has devoted his career to crafting wine from the region his family has called home for over 100 years. Smasne sources grapes from some of the top vineyards in Washington State, working in close collaboration with the growers.
A Rhône style blend, the Farm Girl White offers concentrated flavors of tropical fruit, melon, peach, pear and fresh apple, balanced around a core of minerality, lemon custard and vanilla cream. The Farm Boy Red opens with a nose of plum, Marionberry and blueberry with hints of cinnamon bark and dark cherry. There’s an amazing level of integration to the easy-drinking notes of black currant, red cherry and dark chocolate. An undertone of graphite leads into the rewarding acidity and tannin.
Two Mountain Red Blend No. 12, $13.99
2012 Two Mountain Cabernet, $15.99
When the Rawn family decided to add a vineyard and winery to there farming portfolio, brothers Patrick and Ryan were merely the help. But their summers on the farm became a life on the farm as they increasingly became involved in the new wine project. It seemed they had found their calling and in 2006 they jumped at the chance to purchase the project from their family. Their Hidden Horse Red No. 12 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It opens with rich aromas of dark fruits, tobacco and white pepper followed by flavors of blackberry, dark cherry and vanilla, framed in toasty oak. The 2012 Cabernet offers aromas of coffee, dark fruit and cedar combined with flavors of rich berry, currant and charred oak. Velvety tannins lead to a lingering finish.
2011 MonteScarlatto Kings Cutter’s Cab, $15.99
MonteScarlatto Estate Winery and Vineyards are located in the Red Mountian AVA in Washington State. This area is known for one of the more extraordinary terroirs in the country, producing wines famous for their balance and rich berry flavors. This King Cutter Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine that is a perfect expression of that Red Mountain terroir. It opens with a rich nose of ripe berries and black currants, backed by a lingering finish of chocolate. Great by itself and pairs well with red meats, sauces and rich dark chocolate.
2011 Waters Interlude, $28.00
Founded in 2005, Waters believes that the Walla Walla Valley terroir is capable of producing distinctive red wines that rival the finest of the Old and New World regions. Waters produces just a few thousand cases of small-lot bottlings each year, aimed at reflecting the unique character of each variety, and the qualities of the land that they come from. This 2011 Interlude is a traditional red blend consisting of 61 percent Merlot, 14 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 percent Malbec and 11 percent Petit Verdot. The natural balance and elegance of this wine is derived from selecting the optimal vineyard lots through rigorous blending trials.
First Friday Sale & Tasting: Don’t forget, on March 6 from 4:30 to 6:30 in both the Wine Shop and the Main Store, we’ll be pouring Washington wines as our Wine Region of the Month. All the wines we’re pouring will be 15% off all day.