Posted: January 27, 2015 By Harvey Steiman
The Washington winery that snagged the winemaker from Bryant Family, a California cult favorite, has added to the intrigue by bringing Helen Keplinger into the fold, too. Keplinger was Bryant's winemaker for two years before going off on her own in 2012 to focus on Grenache.
Now she's signed on to consult with the innovative Force Majeure, where her former assistant at Bryant, Todd Alexander, was named winemaker last year. Alexander worked at PlumpJack and followed Keplinger as Bryant's ace in the cellar, a position Philippe Melka, Helen Turley and Mark Aubert held previously. Starry names, all.
Posted: December 15, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 15, 2014
Posted: November 18, 2014
Posted: October 24, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 15, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 15, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: September 19, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Charles Smith has made some bold moves in his life, as he recounted in my profile of the Washington vintner in the Oct. 15 issue of Wine Spectator ("Marching to His Own Drummer"), but moving his base of operations from Walla Walla wine country to Seattle may be the biggest.
When I visited, Smith unlocked the unimposing front door of the warehouse he purchased earlier this year, walked me through a warren of deserted offices into the airplane hangar-sized space that's perfect for a functional and versatile winery. Charles Smith Wines has outgrown its patched-together warehouse winery in downtown Walla Walla.
Posted: September 17, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
On a warm September afternoon, Drew Bledsoe stood in an acre of closely cropped grass. The ex-NFL star quarterback adjusted his sunglasses and surveyed the field, only he wasn't looking over a menacing defense but rows and rows of young grapevines. Their purple bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon stood out against close-cropped green canopies cascading down a steep north-facing slope. In the distance, buildings in the town of Walla Walla reflected the afternoon sun.
Posted: September 9, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
There are those who say only steely, lean wines can express terroir, but the style of Millbrandt's Chardonnay The Estates 2013 ($20) runs counter to that. This is a rich, plush Washington white, but the spicy aromatics and creamy texture play against vibrant acidity, a core of peach and melon finishing with length and a sense of elegance.
Millbrandt, a big vineyard owner in eastern Washington, sells grapes to a roster of A-list wineries, and makes its own wines as well. The Estates Chardonnay comes from its Evergreen Vineyard in the cool-climate Ancient Lakes AVA. It lies on shallow soils littered with chalk and limestone that are earning a reputation for crisp, minerally white wines. You can taste it in this wine.
Posted: July 29, 2014 By Esther Mobley
Posted: July 8, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
The Washington wine label Wines of Substance was invented in 2006 by a couple of Walla Walla hotshots—Waters' winemaker Jamie Brown and Greg Harrington, founder of Gramercy Cellars. It had a promising early run. Some of the wines hit 90 points on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale. The black-and-white label design emulated the periodic table of the elements you might recall from chemistry class, assigning two-letter symbols to the grape varieties used to make the wines, priced at $14 to $20.
Posted: June 27, 2014 By Augustus Weed
Posted: June 20, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Ripeness and alcohol continue to polarize wine drinkers. The prevailing trend almost everywhere these days is toward more moderate levels of alcohol, but a highly vocal wing still finds too much alcohol in too many wines.
It's the sugar in the grapes, of course, that ferments into alcohol, so winegrowers are seeking ways to get enough ripeness to deliver pleasurable flavors without the sugar getting out of hand. Finding a cool climate can do it. But sometimes a cool vintage is a mixed blessing, as my recent experience sampling 2011 Washington reds demonstrates.
Posted: May 31, 2014 By Esther Mobley
Posted: April 11, 2014 By MaryAnn Worobiec
Posted: February 13, 2014
Posted: December 31, 2013
Posted: December 31, 2013 By Katherine Cole
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