Was in Seattle a bit ago and knew that not far north was a great small wine region. I had a day to do nothing so it was the perfect opportunity to check it out! Woodinville, here I come (this is where Chateau Ste. Michelle is).
I checked out the map and it has several areas you can visit. I was there about a decade ago so was aiming to go to a new section. Come to find out the (new to me) parts I wanted to go to are only open on the weekends, and this was a Friday. So I just went back to the ‘old’ ones.
When you park in one place pretty much everything is walkable. Perfect! The first tasting room I checked out was J. Bookwalter Winery, from Columbia Valley. They were established in 1983 and produce roughly 30,000 cases a year. For their Classic Wines they work with co-distributors to bring great grapes to the bottle.
Nice little shop/tasting room and pretty quiet. The tasting was $10 (refundable with a $35 bottle purchase)
The tasting is 5 wines…but like any great place, they don’t give you just five wines…so here we go.
2016 Readers Chardonnay, $20
76% Chardonnay/24% Viognier
Our Readers Chardonnay, previously Couplet, continues to be an outstanding 100% stainless co-fermented blend, which offers aromas of fresh citrus, honeysuckle, and peaches,. The symphony of fruit on the palate echoes the aromas and is accented by minerality, quince and chamomile flowers.
-Yes, totally stainless steel!! Love it, no oak Chard taste!! Almost like a Pinot Grigio.
2015 Double Plot Chardonnay, $28
100% Conner Lee (100% Chardonnay)
The Classical style Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay with Asian pear, Meyer lemon and crème brulee aromas. A restrained young wine, it opens to shows abundant sweet fruit and rich persistent lemony flavors. The purist of Chardonnay fruit is the focus, with clean flavors in a rich smooth textures puncheon ages chardonnay.
-Oak, but not brutal! Not buttery. Liking it for a change.
2014 Readers Cabernet $28
50% Conners Lee | 40% Dionysus | 10% Elephant Mountain (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Syrah)
90 points Wine Enthusiast
A stunning Cabernet from Washington’s older and most revered vineyards. Sourced from Conner Lee Vineyard’s old vines from ’97 and ’88 blocks, Dionysus Vineyards’’ old block 18 and Elephant Mountain Vineyards’’ high elevation superior Cabernet blocks, the powerful wine offers fragrant blackberries, mocha and mineral complexity, all built into this fantastic old vine Cabernet’s delicious style.
-Nose from heaven! So smooth.
2015 Readers Merlot, $28
80% Conner Lee | 10% Dionysus | 10% Elephant Mountain (90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet)
An outstanding Merlot from Washington’s revered old vineyards Conner Lee and Dionysus. Our Readers blend tips its hat to all exploratory readers of books and wine. Blending Conner Lee Vineyard’s 1992 old block Merlots and Dionysus Vineyards’ block 15 Merlot combines two super character vineyards. Elephants Mountain Vineyards Cabernet bring spice and complexity to the blend. This powerful wine offers fragrant cherries and chocolate with rich marionberry flavors in this delicious easy drinking style.
-Smells ‘Italian’. WOW. Have to drink it to understand this amazing work.
2015 Antagonist, $45
100% Elephant Mountain (95% Syrah| 5% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Our 2015 Antagonist is a dark and concentrated wine that will deserve to see the inside of a cellar for several years. Aromatics bursting with flowers, oak and dark fruits lead into black cherries and black berries plus smoke, and meat, sandalwood and sweet spices. The smooth fruit profile is nearly identical on the palate as it is aromatically with sweet dark fruits taking center stage.
-I give it crisp and smooth.
The extras I got to taste were their:
2017 Scarlet Hexflame Rose, $24
100% Columbia Valley | 100% Conner Lee
Vintage 2017 was long in the Columbia Valley. Success of our Washington state vintage was due to our desert’s cool nights during ripening in August. A long history with this old vineyard afforded us a predictable harvest of flavorful early fruit. Harvested in August and early September, mainly Cabernet Franc and Malbec, the fruit was full of flavor early with balanced acidity. We protected the fruit from sun burn with a full canopy of leaves. Overall intensity and depth of flavor are the hallmarks of this outstanding vintage.
-It was sweet, but not killer.
2015 Suspense, $60
100% Columbia Valley | 100% Conner Lee
Our most floral reserve wine displays the ripe cassis, cherries and dried rose petal aromas of perfectly ripened Cabernet Franc. Generous and smooth textured, our lucious blend shows off the best of our 2015 vintage Cabernet Franc supported by its classic Merlot complement.
-I got a lot of pepper on the nose and tongue, a bit different than their description
Very much worth the visit. I did not buy anything at the time because I was flying back and was not going to check a bag but they are very high on my list to order from. They are not yet available in my area, but hope they will be eventually.