Ever-fascinated by burgeoning U.S. wine regions outside of Napa, I've been hearing an escalating hum about the wines of Washington State. The Pacific Northwest has started producing some rather interesting vinos, and it seemed about time to take a trip to the other coast to see it for myself. The destination was Walla Walla, Washington, about four and a half hours outside of Seattle. (And you'd better believe I had a lot of fun with the alliteration of "Wines of Walla Walla Washington. Try saying it 5 times fast, especially after a couple of glasses of the juice).
Walla Walla was granted AVA status in 1984 and has continually strived to excel in viniculture. It's an eclectic place, with elevations ranging from 400 to 2,000 feet above sea level. And while everyone associates Seattle with constant rain, there are very distinct rainy seasons once you get out to wine country. The terroir is also a hodgepodge of soils, giving different characteristics to the grapes. When visiting some of the wineries, I found many grow their grapes in various locations around the state to take advantage of the distinct terroirs. Washington wines tend to lean towards Bordeaux blends and single varietal Syrahs but as I learned, there's a whole Old World grape reinassance, such as Italian and Spanish varietals, happening over there, too.
I was picked up by Sharon of Bella Fortuna Events on a drizzly Thursday morning (I guess I arrived during the rainy season). The first stop was L'ecole 41, one of the original founding wineries in WA state, whose charming tasting room was a converted French schoolhouse. I was impressed with all of the wines, but the L'ecole 41 Perigee, 2011 was particularly impressive. The Bordeaux blend showed deep blackberry, blueberry and plum fruits along with spice and medium tannins. A bit of tobacco and ash also came through on the end and it was very apparent this wine would age well.