Great Northwest Wine: Cab Franc tops Walla Walla Valley competition

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 25, 2014 

One of the Walla Walla Valley's oldest producers topped the second annual Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition.

Walla Walla Vintners' 2012 Cabernet Franc was the No. 1 pick by judges during the competition. The proceeds for the competition help fund scholarships at Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture.

Here are some of the top wines. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $30: This superb and classic red from one of Walla Walla's oldest wineries opens with aromas of crushed leaf, minerality and dark fruit, followed by flavors of black cherry, vanilla, exotic spice and dark chocolate. (14.2 percent alcohol)

Poet's Leap 2013 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: Armin Diel brings decades of Germany winemaking to this Riesling from the Long Shadows collection. It is a classic, thanks to aromas of clove, apricot and apple, followed by sleek, delicious flavors of orchard fruit, peach and apple cider. (12.9 percent alcohol)

J&J Vintners 2012 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $30: This is just the third vintage for this boutique Walla Walla Valley winery, and it's well on track for success. This Syrah starts with telltale aromas of blackberry, vanilla, black pepper and black currants, followed by mouth-filling flavors of ripe plum, dark berry and Baker's chocolate. It's a distinctive and delicious red. (14.3 percent alcohol)

Zerba Cellars 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $30: Winemaker Doug Nierman has been crafting some of the valley's top reds, and he continues to show his prowess with this gorgeous Cab. It offers aromas of black currant, horehound, walnut and luscious spice, followed by dark, bold, exotic flavors of ripe blackberry, plum and cocoa powder. (14.2 percent alcohol)

Bunchgrass Cellars 2011 Founder's Blend, Walla Walla Valley, $35: This blend from a longtime boutique producer is heavy on Cabernet Franc. On the nose, it reveals aromas of black olive, toast and black cherry, followed by flavors of black pepper, black raspberry and plum, all backed by moderate tannins that lead to a terrific finish. (14.5 percent alcohol)

Eleganté Cellars 2009 Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley, $26: Owner/winemaker Doug Simmons crafts some of the finest Sangiovese in Washington, and this latest release reveals plenty to love. It opens with aromas of sweet herbs, black plum and minerally moist earth. On the palate, it is loaded with bright red fruit, including cherry, red plum and pomegranate. (13.1 percent alcohol)

Five Star Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $36: Based at the Walla Walla Regional Airport, Five Star has been one of the valley's top producers for the better part of a decade. This classic Cab reveals aromas and flavors of boysenberry, cocoa powder, sweet herbs and ripe Marionberry. (14.3 percent alcohol)

Morrison Lane 2013 Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $24: The Morrison family has been farming the Walla Walla Valley for nearly a century and got into grapes in 1994. By 1998, the winery was launched. This white wine is an ideal example with aromas and flavors of orange, cream, vanilla, clove and blossoms. (14.5 percent alcohol)

Trio Vintners 2011 Faraway Vineyard Grenache, Yakima Valley, $26: Owner/winemaker Karen La Bonte is one of the bright stars in the valley, and this Grenache continues to burnish her reputation as a top winemaker. It offers aromas and flavors of dark cherry, black pepper, light oak and dark chocolate. (14.8 percent alcohol)

Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $59: Owner Rick Small long ago established his Lowden winery as one of the nation's top Cab producers. He and winemaker Kevin Mott continue to build on this reputation. This superb red is loaded with aromas and flavors of mocha, black cherry, black tea, black pepper and sweet, chocolaty tannins. (14.6 percent alcohol).

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greathnorthwestwine.com.

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