Grand Rêve: New Washington State Winery Bursts onto the Scene



By Kori ~ June 8th, 2009.

2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red WineGrand Rêve Vintners, whose first three wines were just released last month, produces vineyard-designed wines from Red Mountain grown fruit by an all-star cast of Washington winemakers. Theirs is truly a revolutionary and exciting concept in the same vein as Long Shadows Vintners. The difference is that Grand Rêve focuses on the fruit first and then selects Washington winemakers whom they feel can get the best expression of that fruit whereas Long Shadows selects the winemakers first and then lets them select the Washington fruit they want to use.

Grand Rêve (French for Great Dream) has planted their own estate vineyard on the upper slopes of Red Mountain above Col Solare. Their first harvest from the estate vineyard is planned for 2010. In the meantime, they are focusing on fruit from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Ryan Johnson, Grand Rêve partner and vineyard manager, just happens to be the vineyard manager for Ciel du Cheval and several other Red Mountain vineyards. Grand Rêve founder Paul McBride and Johnson currently have five Washington winemakers in the fold including Ben Smith of Cadence Winery, Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery, Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery, Carolyn Lakewold of Donedei, and Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery.

Founded in 2004, Grand Rêve’s first three Collaboration Series wines were released in May. Collaboration Series I is a Bordeaux-style blend made by Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. Collaboration Series II is a Syrah co-fermented with Viognier made by Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery. And Collaboration Series III is a 100% Syrah made by Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery.

Private Tasting DinnerRecently, Mom (LaGayle) and Dad (John) ventured over to Kirkland to the Grand Rêve tasting room which is only open Saturdays 1-5pm or by appointment. They were very impressed with the wines and had a great visit with founder Paul McBride. Dad called me on their way home to tell me that Grand Rêve is definitely a winery to watch. He bought a bottle each of their 2005 Collaboration Series I and 2006 Collaboration Series III, brought them home, and slipped them into our private tasting rotation against other top Washington wines. At a recent family dinner, we blind tasted the 2005 Collaboration Series I against the 2005 Quilceda Creek Red Wine. Both wines are excellent but the Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I blew us away. A few nights later we had what turned out to be the 2006 Collaboration Series III against the 2006 Sequel Syrah from Long Shadows. Again, both wines are excellent. The Sequel came out on top in this one but Grand Rêve certainly proved that it can go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights.

If these first releases are any indication, you might want to consider getting your name on their mailing list as I have a feeling that Grand Rêve wines are going to be hard to come by in the future.

Bordeaux-style blends

2005 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series I Red Wine (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 13% Petit Verdot, 12% Merlot. Winemaker Ben Smith of Cadence Winery. Very dark purple with dark black fruit aromas, especially black cherry, and hints of licorice and spice. More black fruits, pepper, and coffee come through on the palate. Full-bodied with high, drying tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish. This wine is so good.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55; Compass Wines (Washington), $58.99

2005 Quilceda Creek Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot. Very dark purple. Black fruits, smoke, and chocolate come through on the nose; blackberry, coffee, toast, and chocolate on the palate. Full-bodied with medium to high tannins and a long finish. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $35; Available elsewhere, $55 to $75

Syrah

2006 Sequel [Long Shadows] Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington): 96% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker John Duval from Australia. Dark purple with aromas of earth, kindling wood, smoke, and black fruits. More earth, black fruits, and hints of licorice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with drying tannins. Opens up the longer the bottle is open. A complex, well-balanced wine with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $50

2006 Grand Rêve Collaboration Series III Red Wine (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 100% Syrah. Winemaker Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery. Dark purple, very aromatic and flavorful. Fruit-forward with aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, cocoa powder, and pepper. Medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $45; Compass Wines (Washington), $47.99


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Vineyards, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. David Bechtel | August 22nd, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Grand Reve, in my opinion, qill very quickly become one of the most sought after wines in Washington. At my store, World of Wines, we carry all 3 of their current wines (we will also carry others as soon as they come out next month). My personal favorite in their current line-up is the Collaboration I from Ben Smith. My god, what a superb bottle of wine. The Color looks almost like Shiraz with it’s dark almost inky appearance. Black cherry and plums come out on the nose. Dark fruits and coffee stimulate every square inch of your pallet. The finish is perfect. It lingers in your mouth and just keeps going.

    I see Paul a few times a month and have had quite a few conversations with him about their extraordinary wines. A good man with a lot of heart in what he does. I am extremely excited to see what they do next. Watch these guys, you wont be dissapointed.

  2. Roger and Chelsea St.Claire | August 29th, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    The Grand Reve line up is amazing. We tried the recent releases at Purple Space, our wine club in Bellingham, and purchased a bottle of the 2007 Collaboration II. It is amazing.

  3. Kori | September 1st, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Roger and Chelsea,
    Glad to hear you that you have discovered Grand Reve. They are doing a great job. Cheers!

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