We visited a few wineries in Woodinville on Thursday with friends visiting from out of town. My notes are pretty sparse, but I'll share.
Small winery with four wines presently on offer. Winery style is restrained and European. They also have a label called Tenor that consists of costlier single varietal bottlings that they strangely don't pour on weekdays when the serious tasters are about, but only on weekends for the tourists. Never tasted one, possibly never will.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 100% stainless steel. Light yellow, floral/melon/citrus style (no grass, no gooseberry), dry, good concentration and elegance. $30. B
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, 100% concrete egg aged. Spicey sweetness verging on exotic (but not tropical), also no grass or gooseberry, dry and creamy on the finish. Loved it and would have happily bought some in the low 20's, but at $32 I passed. B
2009 Red Wine. A blend of leftover barrels not deemed good enough for the prestige bottlings, as is the Washington way. Ripe and ready for drinking now, black cherry fruit, licorice and chalky minerality. Nice buy for $22. B+
2009 Claret: Matthews' flagship red. Bordeauxish in a Paulliac kind of way. Cedar and tobacco are layered in dark red fruit with great concentration and presence. Very dry and balanced, but needs years. A killer buy at $39 and I bought some for my cellar. A
2009 Syrah: Plummy fruit with strawberry juiciness on the finish and that lactic character typical of young syrah. Very good. B
Relatively new winery owned by two Wisconsin couples that produces what we found to be uneven, simplistic, in your face style wines that we found absurdly overpriced for what they were.
2011 Ramblin Rose, $24: Clean, very dry, pale, Provencal. Best wine they served, but overpriced.
2010 Wallywood Syrah, $42: Mostly syrah with some grenache, very New World style, fruity, grapey.
2010 Stained Tooth Syrah, $32: 91% syrah with PS, Mouv and Gren. Ballsy New World style, with the peppery Mouvedre providing the only complexity.
2009 BFM (stood for Big Frickin' something, can't recall last word), $53. 41% Merlot, 27% Cab Sauv, 18% CF and the rest Malbec and PV. 15.3% abv put some serious heat on a wine that otherwise felt like a mouth of milk chocolate.
2009 VR Special, $63: Mostly Cab Sauv and awkwardly endowed with monster tannins.
2010 Mouvedre (81% with PS and grenache), 14.7% abv: Extracted blueberry flavors, no pepper.
DeLille is one of my favorite Washington wineries. They nail European restraint and elegance better than anyone else here, and the quality is high and consistent from wine to wine, year in, year out. The Chaleur Blanc and Metier will be released in August so the list is about to expand, but otherwise they're sold out (good for them!) of everything else but these four:
2011 Roussanne, $33: Exotically perfumed (but not tropical), complex, creamy yet crisp. Blonde perfection, Grace Kelly in a bottle. Every roussanne I've tasted from DeLille has impressed, but this vintage is the ultimate. Absolutely outstanding, A+. And of course, I purchased some.
2009 Aix, $36: The Aix was the cab/syrah blend winemaker Chris Upchurch made to serve at his own wedding, and it's been in the DeLille lineup ever since. The 09 is the best Washington version of this popular blend I've had to date--actually, I'm not generally a fan of the blend--dominated right now by dusty tannins and tobacco from the cabernet even though it's the lower percentage player. Btw, until our pourer said this was a cab blend, I had always thought it syrah/grenache: southern rhone vs. the next wine's northern. B++ and impressive; I bought two.
2009 Doyenne Syrah, $39: Supple and creamy-sweet with some nice garrique stuff going on. Very good but misses the Northern Rhone target that the cooler 08 vintage mastered so well, and I don't think it has the stuffing to turn into what the 02, 03, and 04 are today. B-
2009 D2, didn't note price but $40ish: This is DeLille's 'red wine', a blend of the barrels not quite good enough for the premier Chaleur and Harrison Hill bottlings but great value at half the price, and I liked this vintage quite a bit. All black fruit, as these tend to be in their infancy, with some interesting herbs and Vitamin B minerality. B+
Gorman, with 3000 case production now and headquartered right in Woodinville (not just the tasting room, but the winery itself), came onto the scene pretty strong after making a fan out of Harvey Steinem at the Wine Spectator, who has lavished vintage after vintage with mid-to high 90's point scores. These are not food wines. The style is somewhat over the top (or even very if you never drink new world wines): stronger, more extracted and sweeter than most, but at the same time expertly done for what they are. Wine for the wine maximalists among us, which the couple we were tasting with certainly are.
2010 Chardonnay, Connor Lee VY, $35: Classic oaked chardonnay flavors, very rich, but even the maximimalists thought it needed more acidity. C-
2009 Zachary's Ladder, $30: 59% Syrah with 39% Cab Sauv. Recognizably similar to DeLille's Aix in weight and flavor, but sweeter. B-
2009 The Pixie (100% syrah), $45: Even without the cabernet, I found it very hard to tell the difference between this and the ZL that came before it. B-
2009 The Evil Twin (70% syrah, 30$ cabernet), $65: Sees 100% new French Oak and it is massive, deeply concentrated, 15.0 abv and natch one of the highest Speck point getters. Ribena and chocolate, almost syruppy, more a cocktail than a wine and too much for me, but our friends loved it and we bought them a gift bottle.
2008 The Bully (100% Cabernet), $48: Huge nose of violets, cocoa and tobacco with a lot of dark chocolate, blackberry and more cocoa. I find Gorman's style more interesting in a cool vintage like 08, and I was rather taken with this in spite of myself.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov