Fall colors, leaves change and veraison, the onset of color of the grape berries, proceeds to full ripening. Harvest time. In our world view, fall color change is associated with Washington's fantastic wine grape and wine industry.
As we observe the gradual change of colors signifying fall, our thoughts turn to the "colors" of wine. Reviewed are a few (there are so many choices) excellent, smaller-winery red, white, pink and even green ("verde") wines. Also provided is a limited listing of local establishments that feature the wines mentioned.
There are so many excellent Washington red wines it is hard to limit our selection. The following are a few suggestions.
Thurston Wolfe Winery (588 Cabernet Court, Prosser; 509-786-3313; thurstonwolfe.com) was recently named Northwest Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, "The Teacher," is named for and dedicated to Stan Clarke, one of the pioneers of Washington red wines. He was instrumental in developing wineries and winemakers in today's industry.
This wine is all cab, but the grapes are from multiple vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.1 It is a medium-bodied red with a distinct oak taste that is well balanced. It is very drinkable now if you are ordering it in a restaurant; it should last a few years if you buy it for your home cellar. The 2010 is currently available retail. It is similar to the 2009, but blended with both malbec and petit verdot.
Thurston Wolfe wines are carried at many restaurants in Seattle, including all Anthony's locations, Ray's Boathouse, The Steelhead Diner and Blueacre Seafood, and this particular wine is popular in restaurants in the Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Port Hadlow areas.
Next door to Thurston Wolfe's tasting room in Prosser (in Vintner's Village, exit 80 off I-82) is the combined restaurant, Wine O'clock, and tasting room of The Bunnell Family Cellar (548 Cabernet Court, Prosser; 509-973-4187; bunnellfamilycellar.com). Bunnell also has a tasting room in Woodinville.
Bunnell blends Rhone varietals, producing several fine wines. We like all of them and it was hard to choose one to review. We selected the 2007 vif, a blend of primarily Syrah with Mourvèdre and petite Syrah. This is a big and complex wine with a lot of flavor. It may not seem ready when first opened, but give it a little time to breathe and you will be rewarded.
It would definitely last a while kept in your cellar. It pairs well with meats and pasta. Bunnell Family Cellar's wines are carried at many local restaurants, including Taste, Maxwell's, Barking Frog, Anthony's Pier 66 and the Space Needle.
Snoqualmie Vineyard (660 Frontier Road, Prosser; 509-786-5558; snoqualmie.com) offers excellent values. Its 2010 Chardonnay is a lovely surprise from the typical world of Chardonnays. Even those who consider most Chardonnays to be too oaky or heavy on the palate will be pleasantly surprised by the 2010 Snoqualmie — it is bright and clean in its finish, with just a little oak and a lot of character.
The price point is exceptionally palatable, and its availability on many wine lists as a glass pour and in grocery stores across the Northwest makes it an easy and proud addition to your white wine stash for last-minute gifts, unexpected guests or an evening on the back porch watching the sun set over Puget Sound in the fall.
The Marco Polo Tavern in Georgetown carries it. Enjoy a bottle with the amazing broasted chicken and toast the end of a fabulous summer.
We tried something new, the 2011 Rosado from Wind Rose Cellars (155B W. Cedar St., Sequim; 360-358-5469; windrosecellars.com). Wind Rose wines are classic Italian varietals grown in Eastern Washington (Red Mountain and Wahluke Slope).
The Rosado (primativo, dolocetto and barbera grapes) has a deep color for a rose. It is dry and very smooth with a hint of citrus. The finish is not strong, but it is easy to drink with nothing distracting or overpowering in it.
We discovered it at Il Fornaio where it was recently added to the wine list. The winery is fairly new (starting with the 2009 harvest); its wines are still being discovered.
Yes, green wine. A wine savored in summer or sipped in the fall while watching, in denial, the summer dwindle away — vinho verde. The name translates to "green wine." It is light and fresh from Portugal, sometimes with hints of effervescence, made from various grape varietals.
One of our favorite places to grab a bottle (and grab the rest of the weekend picnic lunch as well) is the Metropolitan Market on Queen Anne (100 Mercer St.; 213-0778; metropolitan-market.com) or, as always, if you are doing some serious wine shopping, Esquin (1700 Fourth Ave. S.; 682-7374; esquin.com).
Red, white, pink and green — the colors of fall. Or at least some of the colors we appreciate that come from the fall's harvest.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Christopher Howard at 407-1524 or firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx.
1 Editor's Note: For those of you, like the editor, who are unschooled in matters of the grape, an AVA is an American Viticultural Area. I did buy a book, though — From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox — during a spring trip this year to the Sonoma and Napa valleys.