August is Washington Wine Month, and as this 31-day celebration winds down, we wanted to look back on some of the bottles of splendid juice we’ve enjoyed in the last month or so. Most importantly, we celebrate Washington wine every month. But during August, there are even more reasons to rejoice. For example, many wineries, restaurants, bars and wine shops are holding “WAugust” promotions and discounts. Find details at the list of WA Wine events for this last week in August. Meanwhile, here are 12 excellent WA wines we’ve recently tasted.
Washington Wine: Saviah Cellars 2020 Funk Estate Syrah
To us, Saviah has it all – magnificent wine, a great location and friendly, knowledgeable people who know how to take care of you. And let’s not forget layers and layers of funk – the wine is funky, and then there’s Funk Vineyard. And last but not least, there’s brilliant winemaker, Rich Funk, who crafts outstanding wines, year after year. The 2020 Funk Syrah is co-fermented with 4% Viognier. It is the most funky, fabulous, exceptional, expressive and exotic Saviah Rocks Syrah we’ve had. Wow!
Washington Wine: Trothe 2020 Limited Red
The Trothe Limited series spotlights the very best blocks of Andrews Family Vineyards from special vintages. 2020 Limited Red is the second in the series – a blend of Cabernet Franc (67%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (33%). Skilled winemaker Ray McKee says, “Cab Sauv and Cab Franc are blended all over the world. There is a reason.” Likewise, this wine had me at its killer nose. Next came a plush mouthfeel of dark fruit and spices. Limited Red is amazing now, and will become epic.
Two Vintners 2020 Alice
Alice 2020 is a stunning special-occasion wine that hits all the right notes. It’s an incredible blend of 90% Merlot, and 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Alice is a reserve Merlot, in its second vintage. Rock star winemaker Morgan Lee says, “Merlot is special in WA and should be celebrated.” However, he told us, Merlot is still the hardest sell. “I’ve been a vocal supporter of Merlot since I started making wine. And this (Alice) is my middle finger to those who potty-mouth Merlot.”
We loved it! What a rich mouthfeel! Aromas of oranges and plums lead into flavors of dark fruit, spices, black currants and black pepper. Morgan named this beautiful blend after the winery’s sweet Black Labrador, Alice, whom we finally met when we visited his Maltby tasting room earlier this year. This wine sings. Go ask Alice. I think she’ll know.
Covington Cellars Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley
Morgan Lee also crafted this gorgeous Covington Cellars Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley with 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier. These are the three most commonly used grapes in the Champagne wine region of France, comprising 99% of the region’s plantings. Lean, dry and zesty, with beautiful bubbles, Covington Cellars Sparkling Wine offers flavors of apples, citrus and tropical fruit, backed by refreshing acidity, structure and body.
DeLille Cellars 2022 Red Willow Syrah
Jason Gorski, winemaker extraordinaire at DeLille Cellars, poured the unreleased 2022 Red Willow Syrah at the Auction of Washington Wines Winemakers Picnic and Barrel Auction. Jason sourced this standout Syrah from the block of the very first planting of Syrah in Washington state. Certainly, the Sauer family of Red Willow are pioneers of Washington wine. Moreover, this became our wine of the day at the picnic, and we really look forward to its release.
Upchurch Vineyard 2020 Heart of the Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Heart of the Hill is just one of Chris Upchurch’s magnificent Cabernet Sauvignons. Think luscious flavors of cherry-chocolate cake layered into dark fruits, spices and black licorice. Further, Wine Advocate gave this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 96 points. And we understand why. Chris and his wife Thea established their Red Mountain vineyard in 2007. However, we first met Chris, co-founder and award-winning winemaker of DeLille Cellars, many years earlier. As DeLille’s founding winemaker in 1990, Chris created Bordeaux-style blends before anyone in WA.
Washington Wine: L’Ecole 2020 40th Anniversary Red
Above all, this lovely red blend honors L’Ecole’s history as the third winery established in the Walla Walla Valley 40 years ago by Jean and Baker Ferguson. What a treat to see the original, historic label of the schoolhouse again. This gorgeous blend of Merlot (50%), Cab Sauv (30%) and Cab Franc (20%) properly pays tribute to 40 years of L’Ecole greatness. We found aromas of cherries, dark fruit, figs, espresso and cedar. We tasted dark chocolate and dark plums, along with hints of graphite. Delicious! Kudos to talented winemaker Marcus Rafanelli.
Canvasback 2019 Cabernet Franc Ciel du Cheval
Canvasback blends 76% Cabernet Franc, 19% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon into this showstopper wine. Pretty aromas of cherry cola, leather, violets and lilacs lead into lush flavors of raspberries, blueberries, apples, cassis, cocoa and herbs, with hints of graphite and crushed-rock minerality. We echo International Wine Report: this wine is “a stunning example of why everyone should be reaching for more Franc.”
Avennia 2018 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
During a recent visit to Red Mountain, Estate Manager Eli Traverse poured us the powerhouse 2018 Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This the last vintage from 1985 vines, so it’s special. Superb winemaker Chris Peterson describes it as a “blockbuster.” We agree. It features brooding aromas and flavors of black cherries, black raspberries, plums, cocoa and minerality. But the intense flavors will evolve even further over the next 5-20 years. Your patience will be worth it.
Washington Wine: Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2019 Quarry Butte
We have a long history with Ali and Jarrod Boyle, owners of Alexandria Nicole Cellars (ANC), and we have been drinking the fantastic Quarry Butte for years. For instance, we chose Quarry Butte as our drink of choice during the Seattle Seahawks’ playoff games to their Super Bowl win in 2014. The 2019 Quarry Butte offers a six-grape punch of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, 2% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot. Aromas of berries, licorice and spices mirror the palate. Yes, please.
JM Cellars 2016 Cabernet Franc Margaret’s Vineyard
This 2016 Cabernet Franc is a rich blend of 83% Cabernet Franc from two separate blocks of Margaret’s Vineyard in Walla Walla, as well as 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. With seven years of aging, this Cab Franc features concentrated blackberry aromas and flavors, accented with savory notes and hints of olive tapenade and green bell pepper. It’s been a JM Cellars favorite since the first vintage in 2010. So good! We adore it.
Caprio Cellars 2022 Estate White
Rounding off these 12 wines is a white. Specifically, this is a classic Bordeaux-style white, comprised of 75% Sémillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc from Estate Sanitella Vineyard. It shows elegance and textured layers of peaches and pears, threaded with minerality. This enhances meals with seafood. We recommend a visit to Caprio Cellars to try it. Customer Experience Director Emily Kiefer and her staff have a goal to find creative ways to give you a five-star wine-and-food adventure.
Summary: Washington Wine
In conclusion, there’s one week left in Washington Wine Month, so please make the most of it! Of course, we do the honors every month. And don’t forget to check out those promotions and discounts while they’re still available. Cheers to Washington wine!
Margot and Dave