Food & Drink

Obelisco Estate producing fine red wines

When it comes to wines and to prestigious wine regions, Washington has certainly done itself proud.

The state’s latest recognition is the nomination of Red Mountain Appellation as Wine Enthusiast magazine’s wine region of the year. Other 2014 nominees include Champagne, Chianti, New York State and Sonoma, Calif., pretty impressive company by anyone’s standards. The winner will be announced in the magazine’s Dec. 31 issue.

If you’re familiar with Washington wine, then you’re familiar with Red Mountain, which is located about 15 miles west of the Tri-Cities. Its unique climate and soil conditions have made it ideal for growing wine grapes, especially such red varietals as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah.

Obelisco Estate is one of Red Mountain’s newer wineries that has quickly earned a reputation as one of the region’s finest. Owner and winemaker Doug Long planted his vineyards in 2004, added renowned winemakers Sarah Goedhart Hedges and Pete Hedges, and released his first vintage in 2007 with a focus on low-yield fruit of the highest quality.

I recently had the pleasure of tasting some of Long’s price-worthy current releases, and all of them are outstanding. Here are my tasting notes:

2010 Malbec (about $35) – This intensely dark-colored red displays a beautiful, brambly blackberry note throughout, and the fruit is prevalent without being overstated. The latter stages suggest brighter cherry and red currant with a lengthy finish accentuated with toasted vanilla.

2011 Syrah (about $40) – Gorgeous aromatics of crème brȗlée, brown sugar and dark berry fruits fill the glass. Black cherry, black olive and fig flavors subtly explode on the palate, with dreamy, smoky nuances on the finish. Exceptional!

2010 Merlot (about $45) – Intoxicating fragrances of rich plum, caramel and cola lead off, and the initial dark fruit flavors develop more of an herbaceous, mineral-like quality with a splash of espresso as the wine opens up. This is classic Red Mountain fruit at its finest.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $50) – Spicy plum on the nose carries over to the palate with big blackberry fruit and touches of cocoa powder, allspice and sweet cedar. The acidity shines through on this cooler-than-normal vintage, providing balance to the tannic structure. Enjoyable now, but certain to improve with additional cellaring time.

Obelisco Estate wines have just become available in Whatcom County through local distribution. If you don’t see them in your favorite wine shop or grocery store, ask if they can be ordered for you.

In addition, the winery has a tasting room in Woodinville that is currently open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, and Monday through Friday by appointment. For complete information and online purchases, go to obelisco.com.

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