Food & Drink

Thurston Wolfe winery shines with its 2012 reds

Many of Washington’s 2012 vintage red wines are currently in release or just starting to hit the market. After the challenging, cooler-than-usual 2010 and 2011 vintages, winemakers had a much more “normal” year with 2012. For consumers, the reward has been some truly stellar, full-bodied and flavorful red wines.

Nowhere is that more evident than with Thurston Wolfe winery in Prosser, where owner/winemaker Dr. Wade Wolfe has produced terrific, reliable wines for more than 25 years. And even though Wolfe’s 2010 and 2011 vintages hit the mark in terms of consistently high quality, his 2012 vintages are even better.

I recently tasted a number of the winery’s recently or soon-to-be released reds and thought they were excellent choices across the board. Here are my tasting notes:

2012 D.R. Wolfe’s Family Red (about $16) – Lovely vanilla bean fragrance for starters, jammy blackberry and black currant flavors, and a spicy, brambly finish with a hint of Rainier cherry highlight this blend of petite sirah, zinfandel, lemberger and syrah.

2012 Howling Wolfe Zinfandel (about $20) – This nicely complex zin features a nose of brioche and rum raisin, some peppery notes up front and then a layer of cherry wrapped in a blanket of chocolaty caramel. This well-priced wine could easily be the standard by which all Washington zinfandels for this vintage are measured.

2012 The Spaniard (about $20) – This red blend is the combination of three varietals: grenache provides bright raspberry and red currant flavors; tempranillo contributes gentle tannins and texture; and syrah adds some smoky, spicy notes. The underlying finish of lightly herbed bittersweet chocolate makes it a tasty, multifaceted and complete wine.

2012 Petite Sirah (about $20) – This ever-evolving, powerful red opens with enticing sweet cedar and caramel aromatics, followed by black plum and blackberry flavors and a slightly grippy finish suggesting smoky lardo with a touch of espresso. It pairs perfectly with barbeque pork or beef ribs.

2012 Malbec (about $30) – Spicy blackberry and blueberry aromas and flavors are complemented with additional fruits of black currant and dried cherry on the palate. It’s compact, dense and well-structured, with a pleasant, somewhat meaty finish.

2012 Reserve Zinfandel (about $30) – This exquisitely crafted zin displays all of the components of a perfectly balanced wine: candied cherry aromatics, a splash of bright acidity, soft black cherry fruit, and a finish capped with subtle black pepper, toasted oak, and faintly chalky tannins. Outstanding!

2010 The Geologist Bordeaux Blend (about $50) – I realize this is from the 2010 vintage, but this just-released combination of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and malbec bears mentioning. The wine’s aromas of butterscotch and freshly brewed coffee lead into reserved, dark berry fruits and a lengthy finish with vanilla accents. It’s heady, yet elegant, and should not be missed.

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