Leavenworth, Washington, located just east of Stevens Pass, a mere 4 hrs from the BC/WA border is well known for their Oktoberfest activities, which happen over 3 weekends every October. This past weekend, I went to try the beer, brats and pretzels for Oktoberfest, but I also wanted to try the wines produced by the wineries in the area. (My Oktoberfest halls youtube video will be produced shortly BTW.)
With only 1 day to visit wineries, I tried wines from 4 different wineries. Two wineries in Leavenworth, one in Cashmere, and one in Wenatchee. A short trip between all three towns by car.
Horan Estates Winery
Dennis and Beth Dobbs are relatively new owners to this winery, located in Cashmere, WA. Dennis besides being an owner is also a certified Sommelier. I had a very enjoyable discussion with him about their wines. Dennis is very passionate about their wines, and is slowly expanding the winery. They just moved into a newer, larger tasting room, 2 weeks before I visited them. They only have 1 white wine and 4 reds at the moment.
- Horan Estates Viognier 2011 (US$20) – Light stone fruit nose with a dusting of baby powder / vanilla. Medium body, soft and round in the mouth with ripe stone fruit and peaches, together with some vanilla and spice. A nice wine.
- Horan Estates HVH Red Blend 2007 (US$22) – This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. It has nice juicy cherry and vanilla aromas. Medium body, dry, with medium acidity. Cherries and vanilla on the palate along with some cedar, followed by a mineral streak mid palate and chocolate flavours. Another tasty wine. I picked up a bottle of this wine to share with friends.
Horan Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (US$22) – This wine does have 20% Merlot blended into it. Light intensity aromas of cassis and dark fruits. Pronounced tears on the glass. Medium body, dry with cherry and vanilla flavours and a mineral streak again. Sour cherries and vanilla on the finish. Medium plus length. Another recommended wine.
- Horan Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (US$22) – Light cassis and capsicum on the nose (a cooler vintage than 2007?). Light body, with tea leaves,cherries, and vanilla flavours, and again a mineral streak through the wine. The tannins build toward the finish.
- Horan Estates Syrah 2011 (US$22) – A blend of 88% Syrah and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Light violets, mocha and berries on the nose. Tasty with flavours of cherries, raspberries and mocha, and again more minerality!
As you might have noticed, I mentioned minerality on all of Horan’s red wines. I would hazard to guess that at least the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are underlain with some limestone. I really enjoyed the minerality in their wines.
If you are visiting Leavenworth, you can try their wines at the highly regarded Visconti’s Italian Restaurant.
Chateau Faire Le Pont
Doug and Debe’ Brazil are a husband and wife team at Chateau Faire Le Pont in Wenatchee. Doug being the wine maker and Debe’ being in charge of sales and marketing (there are other partners too in the business). One thing that I found interesting is the name of the winery and it’s connection to Canada. As I mentioned Doug and Debe’ are married, and I found out that Debe’ is from Quebec. The term “Faire Le Pont” is a term that her family used to use when a holiday fell mid-week and they wanted to extend their holiday.
Chateau Faire Le Pont Chardonnay 2012 (US$19.99) – Light yeast (lees?) and tropical fruit aromas. Medium body, soft, with lower acidity on the palate. Apples and green melon flavours and a hint of lime. Acidity hangs on to the finish.
- Chateau Faire Le Pont Milbrandt Syrah 2009 (US$29.99) – This wine is made from 100% free run juice from Milbrant’s Clifton vineyard. Very aromatic, with violets, juicy raspberries, ripe cherries and vanilla. Medium body, dry, soft with medium acidity. Ripe dark cherries, raspberries, cassis, and other dark fruits flavours. Nutmeg, vanilla, and white pepper spices. Sour cherries and vanilla on a medium length, dry finish.
- Chateau Faire Le Pont Cabernet Franc 2009 (US$39.99) – Lighter translucent garnet in colour. Light capsicum / cedar notes, along with red cherry on the nose. Medium minus body, soft, and dry in the mouth. Light red cherries, a hint of violets, and vanilla flavours. Pepper builds to the finish. Fine tannins. Very elegant and balanced My favourite wine from this winery.
- Chateau Faire Le Pont Malbec 2009 (US$39.99) – Deep opaque colour with ripe berries, cherries and chocolate aromas. Full body, soft mouth feel with ripe, juicy black fruits, black cherries and vanilla flavours. Spicy on the tongue. The tannins start soft but give you a grippy finish. Medium length. A good quality wine.
Kestrel Vintners opened its doors to the public in February 1999. What owners John and Helen Walker wanted was very simple: to craft superior wines at reasonable prices that would rival the best Washington wineries. From the wines I tasted, I would say that they have easily reached that goal. The tasting room I visited is located in Leavenworth, but they also have a tasting room in Prosser, and one in Woodinville (where the cellar is also located). Their Kestrel View Estate Vineyard is home to some of the oldest Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec vines in the state with plantings dating back to 1972.
Kestrel Vintners Pinot Gris 2012 (US$13) – Nice stone fruit and grapefruit aromas. Light body, oily, with lots of grapefruit & grapefruit rind flavour and some spiciness. Medium acidity and medium length. An OK Pinot Gris.
- Kestrel Vintners Viognier 2012 (US$17) – Nice lychee, stone fruit and sweet spice nose. Light plus body, dry with pears, some peach and grapefruit. Medium acidity and medium length. I enjoyed this wine.
- Kestrel Vintners Leavenworth White 2012 (US$17) – With Leavenworth promoting German culture, it is no surprise that this white wine would be made from a German grape, Gewurztraminer. This wine is only available at the Leavenworth tasting room. It has a nice orange and lychee nose. Off dry, with small acidic prickle on the tongue. Lychee, apples and apricot flavours. Soft and round in the mouth. Maybe try with some Thai food?
- Kestrel Vintners Sangiovese 2009 (US$22) – Nice nose with flowers, smoke and cherries. Dry with medium body and medium acidity. Dark cherries, oak, dried herbs and cedar notes on the palate, along with a medium level of spiciness.
- Kestrel Vintners Syrah 2009 (US$22) – Deep garnet colour. Matchsticks and dark fruit nose. Full body, round mouth feel, with dark fruit and cherries primarily, with lesser amounts of vanilla and mocha. Medium acidity. This wine has nice flavour.
Kestrel Vintners Tribute 2010 (US$22) – This wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. This wine was created to commemorate the life of Kestrel Vintners owner, John Walker. He founded Kestrel but passed on in 2010. The wine was blended then aged in oak barrels for 18 months. Coffee and dark fruit nose. Full body, with higher acidity. Coffee and dark fruit flavours. Very tasty. Nice acidity gives you a mouthwatering finish. I really liked this wine.
- Kestrel Vintners Winemaker Select Series Mourvedre 2009 (US$40) – A step up in Kestrel’s quality series, this wine gives the wine maker more ability to express his vision for a wine. A straight Mourvedre is not very common. And this was an exceptionally good wine. Toffee and dark fruit nose. Medium plus body, some, with flavours of flowers, dark fruit. cherries and a touch of chocolate and coffee. Medium acidity. This wine was velvety on the tongue. Highly recommended.
- Kestrel Vintners Signature Series Raptor Red 2008 (US$60) – Signature Series wines are created by selecting only truly exceptional barrels of wine in their reserve lots. These are very small production wines. The Raptor Red is divided equally between Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Ripe black fruits, chocolate and toffee aromas. Juicy cassis, black cherries and vanilla flavours. Good acidity and fine/soft tannins. Medium length. Very nice.
- Kestrel Vintners Signature Series Port 2009 (US$30) – This is a port-style wine made from Tempranillo and Syrah grapes. Lighter body with medium sweetness. Ripe dark fruits and black cherry flavours. Spicness and tannins build as you let the wine linger in your mouth. A nice sip.
Baroness Cellars is one of the 750 wineries in WA state that I had not yet heard of. I am still amazed by how many wineries there are in Washington. The lady pouring me some of their wines to taste told me that all their wines are made in their building in Leavenworth. Checking their website, I could not find too many details about the winery. It is too bad that there is not much info, but maybe in time the website will be filled with more content; and in the meantime, the wines speak for themselves.
- Baroness Cellars Miscela 2008 (US$28.95) – This wine is a blend of Sangiovese and Barbera, two Italian grapes in the heart of German wine and food culture! This wine had red currants and cherries on the nose. Higher acidity with juicy red currant flavour and quite spicy. Dry on the palate. An OK wine.
- Baroness Cellars Merlot 2009 (US$29.95) – Nice juicy black cherries and vanilla aromas. Nutmeg jumps out and makes your palate take notice, followed by flavours of currants, plums, cherries and vanilla. Dry with a medium body and length. Another OK wine.
- Baroness Cellars Huntress 2008 (US$22.95) – An interesting blend of Grenache, Dolcetto, and Lemberger. Juicy chocolate cherry nose. Wow, a big flavour explosion in your mouth. Juicy cherries and ripe plums, followed by apples and spice on the mid palate. Full body. A really tasty wine. Recommended.
Next time you are in the Leavenworth area, give these wineries a chance, and also the other wineries in the area. Prost!