Road Trip: Walla Walla, Day 2

By John ~ July 11th, 2008.

On our second day in Walla Walla, Washington, during our cross-country road trip, we visited five wineries. All of them were new to us, but they had come highly recommended and we were not disappointed. The tasting room personnel were very friendly and the wines were generally very good, although some were a bit pricey. [In case you missed it, you might want to check out my Walla Walla, Day 1 post from last Friday.]

In our first stop at the Spring Valley Vineyard tasting room in downtown Walla Walla, we may have tasted the best wine of the day, the 2005 Spring Valley Nina Lee Syrah. Thanks to Michelle, the hostess in the tasting room, for finding a few bottles for us. Spring Valley has wheat farming roots going back to the mid-1800s, was founded and nurtured by the Corkrum and Derby families, and is now owned by Ste. Michelle Estates and produces about 5,500 cases of premium wine per year.

Our next stop was Bergevin Lane Vineyards. Bergevin Lane is named after its co-owners Annette Bergevin and Amber Lane. Their first vintage was 2001 and they now produce about 8,000 cases per year. Of the eight wines we tasted, our favorite was the 2004 Bergevin Lane Alder Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon. A close second was the 2006 Bergevin Lane Princess Syrah.

After lunch, we visited Forgeron Cellars, a locally owned winery started in 2001 in a renovated turn-of-the-century blacksmith shop, thus the name, Forgeron. Under the talented stewardship of French-born winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla, Forgeron produces about 5,000 cases per year. Of the seven wines we tasted, our favorite and close second overall on Day 2 was the 2004 Forgeron Boushey Vineyard Syrah. Two other excellent wines were the 2003 Forgeron Merlot and the 2005 Forgeron Zinfandel.

Our next stop was at the Whitman Cellars, where Kathy Goodwin was a knowledgeable and gracious hostess and we tasted seven wines. Our favorite was the 2005 Whitman Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our final stop on Day 2 was at Stephenson Cellars, located in the old military area at the Walla Walla airport. Dave Stephenson’s first release was in 2001 and he now produces about 1,200 cases per year. We thought all of his offerings were above average and had good value. Of the four wines we tasted, our favorite was the 2005 Stephenson Syrah. Two other excellent wines were the 2005 Stephenson Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Stephenson Merlot. The other wine we tasted was no slouch either, the NV Stephenson Red Wine.

Here’s a breakdown of the Walla Walla wines that we tasted on Day 2. Under each Quality heading, the wine name will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2005 Spring Valley Nina Lee Syrah, $50, QPR: 5
2004 Forgeron Boushey Vineyard Syrah, $46, QPR: 5

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2004 Bergevin Lane Alder Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, $30, QPR: 5
2003 Forgeron Merlot, $27, QPR: 5
2005 Whitman Cabernet Sauvignon, $36, QPR: 5
2005 Stephenson Cabernet Sauvignon, $32, QPR: 5
2005 Stephenson Merlot, $28, QPR: 5
2005 Forgeron Zinfandel, $30, QPR: 4
2005 Stephenson Syrah, $30, QPR: 4
2006 Bergevin Lane Princess Syrah, $46, QPR: 3
2005 Spring Valley Frederick (Bordeaux blend), $50, QPR: 2

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2005 Bergevin Lane Calico Red (Bordeaux blend), $19, QPR: 4
NV Forgeron Walldeaux Smithie (Bordeaux blend), $16, QPR: 4
2004 Whitman Cabernet Sauvignon, $36, QPR: 4
NV Stephenson Red Wine, $20, QPR: 4
2004 Bergevin Lane Syrah, $30, QPR: 3
2005 Forgeron Cabernet Franc, $30, QPR: 3
2004 Whitman Narcissa Red (Bordeaux blend), $24, QPR: 3
2002 Whitman Port (Cab) Red Mountain, $40, QPR: 3
2005 Spring Valley Uriah (Bordeaux blend), $50, QPR: 1
2005 Bergevin Lane Intuition (Bordeaux blend), $55, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2005 Bergevin Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, $25, QPR: 4
2005 Whitman Syrah, $30, QPR: 3
2005 Spring Valley Derby Cabernet Sauvignon, $50, QPR: 2
2005 Bergevin Lane Merlot, $25, QPR: 2
2006 Forgeron Chardonnay, $25, QPR: 2
2005 Spring Valley Mule Skinner Merlot, $35, QPR: 1
2007 Bergevin Lane Viognier, $25, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Forgeron Roussanne, $23, QPR: NR
2004 Whitman Merlot, $32, QPR: NR
2007 Whitman Viognier, $19, QPR: NR

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Lesser Known Varietals, Merlot, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Travel, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

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