Summer and autumn here are times for leisurely exploration of wine regions, relaxed tasting and usually collective voluminous purchases. Winter and spring are the time for drinking the accumulated supplies after long days on ski hills. Both seasons are a real struggle, honestly.
Below are some of the best we’ve cracked in the last few weeks.
Whitman 2001 merlot: We opened this to compare with two highly regarded Walla Walla merlots (albeit from the 2000 vintage). While the others were pleasant enough, the Whitman stood head and shoulders above the pack. It had a velvety mouthfeel, plum, vanilla, and a wonderful balance of fruit and acid. By no means tired, but so good now I’m afraid I’m going to drink my other bottles two very soon.
Peterson’s 1998 Hunter shiraz: Bought this one five years ago, and cellaring has rewarded the patience. If I remember correctly, a wine from a hot, dry vintage. It’s a classic Hunter, soft, leather and spice, with a backbone of black fruit. I can’t imagine it getting any better than it is now.
Argyle 1998 Knudsen Vineyard Brut: This is an excellent example of the quality of sparkling wine that can be made in Oregon. Predominantly pinot noir, the bottle age has produced a lovely yeastiness, balanced with apple tart flavours, grilled nuts and a long, long finish. I’ve no idea why more Oregon producers don’t follow Argyle’s example and make sparklings like this. It stands out from the masses of dull American fizzy wine that fills the wine store shelves.
Woodward Canyon 2000 Art Series cabernet: Again, we opened this against two other Columbia Valley cabernets, both 1999. The Art Series was a bit of stunner in comparison. Smooth tannins, espresso, vanilla and red berry, all in perfect harmony. A very impressive drop from a producer of age-worthy wines. This is certainly one I wish I’d left a couple more years, at least. And as they are actually the closest Walla Walla winery to us, one I need to visit again soon.