Wine Tasting Dinner: Red Willow Vineyard Red Wines



By Kori ~ March 13th, 2013.

Red Willow Vineyard is one of the top vineyards in Washington State. Located in the northwest corner of the Yakima Valley near Wapato, Washington, Red Willow is a fourth-generation family farm, owned and operated by Mike Sauer and his family. Red Willow has one of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon blocks in the state, planted in 1973, and the first Syrah block in the state, planted in 1986. The iconic Monsignor Chapel sits atop Red Willow and gives the vineyard a distinct identity.

Red Willow Vineyard has had a longstanding relationship with Columbia Winery, formerly known as Associated Vintners, which dates back to 1978. For almost 30 years, Columbia Winery sourced Red Willow fruit almost exclusively. However, in 2005, Columbia started giving up some of their blocks, which allowed other notable Washington producers the opportunity to source this prized fruit. While Columbia is still one of their largest customers, this diversification is allowing the true potential and value of the vineyard to be realized. In recent years, we have been closely watching the releases of Red Willow wines from some of our favorite wineries including Betz Family Winery, Owen Roe, Adams Bench, and Fall Line, as well as newer wineries like Avennia and Eight Bells. While Red Willow’s place in the history of the Washington wine industry is already well established, it is exciting to see the Red Willow name on more bottles through these new partnerships.

Last Friday evening, we featured red wines from Red Willow Vineyard in our wine tasting dinner. To experience the breadth of wines from this world-class vineyard, we tasted one red blend, two Cabernet Sauvignons, and three Syrahs. All six wines paired beautifully with our dinner of tomato basil soup, mixed green salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing, roasted beef tenderloin with a beef demi-glace, braised kale, pan roasted fingerling potatoes seasoned with herbs de Provence, and German chocolate dessert.

The consensus favorite of the evening was the 2009 Adams Bench Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by the 2010 Mark Ryan Lost Soul Syrah. For more information about Red Willow Vineyard, you might enjoy reading an article that I wrote for the Fall 2009 issue of Washington Tasting Room magazine.

Red Blend:

2009 Fall Line Winery Red Willow Vineyard Red Blend (Yakima Valley, Washington): 64% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark red. Gorgeous nose with black plum, black cherry, licorice, smoke, and clove aromas. Red and black fruit, smoke, spice, and dark chocolate come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and chewy tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30; Available elsewhere, $30

Cabernet Sauvignon:

2009 Adams Bench Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark, dense purple. Gorgeous nose with blackcurrant, blackberry, leather, and molasses aromas. Blackberry jam, leather, and a touch of tobacco come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and high, dry tannins. Big and bold yet well-balanced and smooth with a luscious mouthfeel and a very long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $60

2009 Owen Roe 1973 Block Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Dark purple in color. Red fruit and leather come through on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $72; Available elsewhere, $60 to $75

Syrah:

2010 Mark Ryan Lost Soul Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Dark purple. Beautiful nose with blackberry, black cherry, and smoked meat aromas. More smoked meat, bacon, black fruit, and warm spices come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity, and medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a very long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle Washington), $45; Available elsewhere, $44

2010 Owen Roe Chapel Block Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Aromatic with red and black fruit and cinnamon on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and sweet tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55; Available elsewhere, $35 to $62

2010 Betz Family Winery La Côte Patriarche Syrah (Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Distinct nose with earth, black fruit, and brine. Earth, black fruit, spice, and black pepper come through on the palate. Full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high, dry tannins, and a very long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $55


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Vineyards, Washington State Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Over $25

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