The town of Walla Walla itself is loaded with charm; home to Whitman College, the ambience is of small town friendliness married with the collegiate trappings of good restaurants and bars. Most importantly, to a city dweller like myself, who only uses her license to show a bartender she's of legal drinking age, it's possible to have a great wine tasting experience completely on foot; most of the wineries in Walla Walla have a tasting room in the center of town, so you can simply hoof it from place to place. While Day 1's car tour was completely worthwhile, especially as those wineries didn't have presence in town, I was able to cover a lot of ground just by walking.
Sinclair Vineyards was my first stop of the day. With an assortment of whites and reds, the one that stood out the most was their Sinclair Vineyards, Syrah, 2011. A balance of berry fruits, pepper and herbaceous spices, it was rich and lovely.
Their tasting room was a cross between a Victorian parlor and an antiques store. While it was charming....
...it was macabre at the same time.
Next was Seven Hills Winery, a fairly renowned winery in the region.
The Seven Hills Winery Riesling, Columbia Valley Fall Special, 2012, was one of the few Rieslings I came across in the region. There was a floral note of rose on the nose, along with peach, a bright minerality and a hint of lychee. There was a good amount of acidity on it and I was pleasantly surprised by how this traditional cool-weather grape turned out in the warmer climate.
There were two other standouts in the tasting lineup. The Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2013 was citrus-dominant but slightly nutty, along with a vanilla creaminess. However, as the grapes are grown in Willamette Valley, Oregon, I was hesitant to think of it as a WA state wine.
The other was the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Vintage Red Wine, Red Mountain, 2012. Grown in the Red Mountain AVA, the grapes develop a thick skin to protect themselves against the heavy winds in the region, resulting in high tannins. This 50% Cabernet Sauvingon/26% Merlot/15% Petit Verdot/9% Cabernet Franc showed plummy and jammy fruits with some very appealing notes of graham cracker and biscuit. However, the wine needed a bit more time to age in order to let some of the secondary notes of coffee and smoke integrate.
Next on the wine stroll was G. Cuneo Cellars, who deals exclusively with Italian grape varietals.
The Rosato, 2013, was done in a traditional Rosato style: medium plus body, decent acidity and lots of bright strawberry, along with a floral note. This is a great rose for food.
The Nebbaro, 2010 intrigued me. A blend of two of Piedmont's most famous grapes, Nebbiolo and Barbera? How would that work? Fairly well, apparently. There was some plum, violet and dark berries in this wine, along with soil and spice. However, it lacked the acidity that I normally associate with Italian wines - the nose said one thing but the palate said another.
G. Cuneo is also producing a Ripasso wine, traditionally from the Valpolicella region of Italy. These wines are often deep and rich, but this Ripasso needed some aging time in order to show its true character.
The final wine in the lineup was Bonatello Riserva, 2010, a 100% Sangiovese wine. Again, this wine needed some aging but it already showed deep rich berries, bright cherry and spice, both peppery and sweet. There was more acid and tannins on this than the other wines and it showed strong promise.
At this point, lunch moved to top of the priority list, so I took a break from tasting for some sustanance in the form of bouillabaise from Brasserie Four.
The tasting adventures will be continued...