By Kori ~ December 21st, 2009.
The majority of Washington State wineries are small, “Mom and Pop” operations, many operating out of garages, office parks, or other small facilities. Basel Cellars, located on the Old Milton Highway just south of downtown Walla Walla, Washington, is not one of those operations. In fact, Basel Cellars is one of the first wineries that comes to mind when I think about the exceptions to that rule. Basel Cellars is a picturesque 87-acre wine country resort. Their estate houses the winery, tasting room, vineyards, gardens, and luxurious overnight accommodations (available to wine club members). From the tasting room and adjacent patio, guests are treated to breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains. Meanwhile, inside the tasting room, they serve some very good wines.
Founded in 2002, Basel Cellars is currently owned by the Basel and Hansen families and produces 6,500 cases per year. Their winemaker is Justin Basel who early on decided that winemaking was his calling and has now been involved in the wine production of the family business for several years. All of the wine production for Basel Cellars is done on site in their 9,600 sq ft underground winery.
“Growing up in our Estate vineyards since I was 13 and knowing the Walla Walla fruit along with my education has opened me up to Washington’s fantastic agriculture opportunities. This has really given me the insight and knowledge to produce outstanding wines.” –Winemaker Justin Basel
Basel Cellars owns two estate vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, Pheasant Run and Double River Ranch, which were planted in 1997. They grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and Semillon.
We tasted a couple of the Basel Cellars wines blind in a recent samples tasting. Our favorite was the Estate Merlot, but we also found the Merriment enjoyable.
If you are ever in the Walla Walla area, you should definitely make a point to visit Basel Cellars.
2006 Basel Cellars Estate Merlot Pheasant Run Vineyard (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep garnet. Red fruits and cinnamon on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Bold yet smooth with a slight bitterness on the long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $28; Discount Wine Buys (Washington), $22.94
2006 Basel Cellars Merriment Estate Red Wine (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Deep red. Nose is a bit tight at first. Gradually black cherry and cedar aromas emerge, followed by black and red fruit flavors. Medium-bodied and smooth with medium tannins and a medium length finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $48; Available elsewhere, $48 to $54
Filed under: American Wine, Merlot, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25