Avignonesi is the largest vineyard in Italy that produces vegan, organic, and certified-biodynamic wines. Located in Montepulciano, Avignonesi’s portfolio features almost two dozen wines, in addition to Grappa, olive oil and honey. We recently tasted seven mini-samples including Chardonnay, Rosato, Sangiovese, Merlot and two excellent red blends. Our favorite? Avignonesi Grifi 2017. All but one of these wines are distributed in 37 states in the U.S. Read on for more details.
Located near Spokane, Liberty Lake Wine Cellars is a boutique Washington state winery focusing on bold reds from Red Mountain. Our kind of wines, right? Right! As background, original owners Doug and Shelly Smith released the first 2005 vintage in 2007. Fast-forward to 2016. Mark and Sarah Lathrop took over the Liberty Lake operation, moving to a larger tasting room and production facility. They also created a second label, TAHIJA, for non-Red Mountain reds and whites.
Mark recently sent us samples of four bottles of Liberty Lake wine. First, we tasted 2018 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which won’t be released until next year. Second, we tried three releases coming out later this month: 2017 Cabernet Franc, 2018 Zinfandel and 2018 TAHIJA Sangiovese. Read on for details.
Stottle Winery, based in Lacey, just north of Olympia, has spring releases of some of its unique red wines, four of which we recently had the opportunity to taste.
Owner and winemaker Josh Stottlemyer is skilled at blending reds, as we experienced with the 2014 Stottle Big Eddie and Hombre. He also does well with the 2014 Tempranillo (100%) and Sangiovese (99%, topped with 1% Cabernet Sauvignon).
As in the past, our palates prefer Big Eddie, but all four wines will pair well with a late spring or summer dinner or barbecue on the deck or patio. Or sip them lakeside or poolside, with some tasty cheeses and charcuterie.
Back in June, 2010, I wrote a blog post about how we wanted to visit Maryhill Winery, known for its breathtaking views of the Columbia Gorge and very good value-priced wines. Another year has gone by, and try as we did, we could not get there in 2011. I was so busy traveling for my “day job” that I couldn’t make as many winery trips as we had hoped.
Thankfully, we still had an opportunity to taste some of Maryhill’s wines, even though we didn’t make it to the winery, which is the state’s 15th largest in terms of production (80,000 cases) and located on the Washington-Oregon border.
We recently tried three samples that were sent to us: 2006 Syrah Proprietor’s Reserve ($20), 2006 Sangiovese ($18) and 2007 Zinfandel ($22). (You can find newer Maryhill releases; we waited for more than a year before tasting these ones.)
The 2006 Syrah Proprietor’s Reserve received 92 points from Robert Parker, along with a Double Gold for Syrah under $20 in the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards and a Gold from the 14th Annual Northwest Wine Summit 2009. More than two years later, we could see why this rich and silky Syrah is a winner. We enjoyed it with a savoury stew; it would also pair nicely with a hearty roast.
The 2006 Sangiovese paired perfectly with Dave’s delicious spaghetti, but it would have worked well with barbeque ribs, pasta or pizza too. More than a year after its release, this medium-bodied wine exhibited an earthiness that we weren’t expecting, with cherry, orange peel and mineral on the palate often associated with Sangiovese.
The 2007 Zinfandel was crafted for “pure palate pleasure.” Fruit-forward and jammy, with a deep ruby color, this wine has character. We nibbled on strong, stinky cheese, a perfect match for this dry red.
Although we waited to taste these wines, we hopefully won’t have to wait too much longer to visit the winery. It’s a new year, and hopefully 2012 will be the one!