I admit that I do not know much about the wineries in the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, but I decided to make a trip out there to find out more about these wineries. One winery that I visited, and had a very interesting and informative time was Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles, WA.
I spent part of an afternoon with owner, and wine maker, Mr. Don Corson, a man who truly has a passion for wine. He produces hand crafted Bordeaux-style blends, producing about 3500 case a year. The fruit for his wines comes from Eastern Washington, where he works with eight vineyards.
This afternoon I enjoyed sampling 3 wines with Don:
- Merlot 2008
- Cabernet Franc 2008
- Tempranillo 2008 (OK, this one is not a Bordeaux grape)
The grapes for the Merlot 2008 comes from 4 different vineyards, with each vineyard offering it’s own character to the wine (more on this later). This wine was medium garnet in colour. Dark cherry and plum aromas. Nice oak flavour. Dry with medium plus body and high acidity. Capsicum on the mid palate. Lots of layers of fruit flavours. Don and I both discussed the high acidity in this wine, and how it would work well with food. We also mentioned that the WA Merlot, as well as the BC Okanagan Merlot both tend to be bigger and more muscular than Cabernet Sauvignon from the same regions. Something peculiar to our terroirs.
The Cabernet Franc 2008 comes from 3 different vineyards. It was very flavourful. Medium garnet in colour with a light intensity of dark fruits on the nose. Cedar and dark fruit flavours. Medium acidity and tannins (mid-palate). Long length.
The Tempranillo 2008 was translucent ruby the the glass. Nice smoky, dark fruit and vanilla aromas on the nose. Medium plus body with a streak of minerality. Some tarriness and dark chocolate aromas. Medium acidity on the palate, with cherries, cassis and blackberry flavours. Very juicy on the palate. Medium length. Very tasty.
It’s in the Blend
I mentioned earlier that Don works with several vineyards and that the grapes for the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc wines come from more than one vineyard. I brought this up due to a barrel tasting I did with Don for his upcoming Cabernet Franc vintage. The new vintage will be a blend of grapes from 4 different vineyards. As we sampled the wine from each vineyard, you could see, smell, and taste the difference that each terroir imparted to the wines. One wine I would describe as opaque in colour, tannic and very muscular, while another would be light coloured with cedar or savoury notes. But the magic happened with Don took a sample from each of the vineyards and blended it together roughly in a wine glass for us to taste. When I took a sniff then a sip, I could taste at different points each of the different flavours of the four different vineyards. Some flavours came sooner and others came later. It was very interesting.
Some Questions about Wine
As a wine maker, blending wines, I hope that the consumer enjoying their wine could appreciate and understand where the different layers of flavour came from. This experience also made me wonder about single vineyard wines. How many truly great “Grand Cru” type vineyards are there in the world that can impart such layers of fruit, aroma and structure throughout the length of a sip? Maybe blended wines (of a single variety) can produce a more complex, interesting, and enjoyable wine, compared to wines from most individual vineyards? This is something I will investigate more with wineries throughout my tasting travels. Do you have an opinion?
For more information about Camaraderie Cellars, here is their website.