Washington Wine Club – February 2011

2005 Corliss Estates, Columbia Valley Red Wine
As we mentioned last summer, when we put their 2004 Red Wine in the club, Corliss Estates was founded in 2001 in an old bakery in downtown Walla Walla by a couple of Seattle real estate developers, Michael Corliss and Lauri Darneille, at the height of the wine boom there. With abundant financial resources available, their goal is to produce wines that can age at least 10 to 20 years and that can eventually compete with Quilceda Creek as the top Bordeaux-based blend in Washington. The 2005 Red Wine is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 9% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot, and is sourced from top Washington vineyards, including Stillwater Creek, Weinbau, Bacchus, Stonetree and a few on Red Mountain. Three quarters of the wine is aged in new French oak for an amazing 33 months. Very aromatic, it is full-bodied, smooth, lush, intense, and concentrated. The Cabernet is somewhat more dominant than in last year’s blend, but the dusty tannins are balanced by spicy black fruits. It needs at least three to four years to fully integrate, but could very easily age for another 15 years. It is $65 and very limited, as only 450 cases were made. We also have a few bottles left of the even more limited 2005 Corliss Cabernet, sourced mostly from Dionysos vineyard, at $75.

2009 Syncline Wine Cellars, Roussanne
It’s interesting that the last three whites we’ve put in the Washington Club have all contained Roussanne. Since Roussanne is thick-skinned and difficult to work with, it’s possible that only the very best winemakers (like Brett Isenhower, Doug McCrea, and Brian Carter) can really tame the grape. And it’s no surprise that we can add to that list James Mantone of Syncline, one of our favorite Washington producers of Rhône-style wines. James brought this wine to a recent tasting at the shop, and it was an immediate hit. The nose is classic Roussanne: stone fruit and citrus aromas with a persistent, underlying hint of black tea leaves. To retain its freshness and acidity, the wine is aged in neutral French oak barrels and does not undergo malolactic fermentation. We can’t improve on James’ suggestions on the label of pairing it with oysters, scallops, lobster, or soft, rich cheeses. It’s a great value at $22 and still in good supply.