Taste Washington 2014, Review #1 – Swiftwater, Sleight of Hand, Obelisco

We spent two days swirling and sipping at Taste Washington this year, and came away as convinced as ever that we are making some really great juice in this state – it’s pretty exciting to see the market mature.  What’s also great about these Washington Wines is that in many cases, they are available now, so you can find the wines that pique your interest and try them for yourselves.

Bob hard at work writing notes.
Hard at work writing notes.  It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

In no particular order, except maybe a little backwards alphabetical because that’s how we wound up starting our first day, we’ll be grouping together our reviews of several wines at a time.  Here are the notes from our tasting of Swiftwater Cellars, Sleight of Hand Cellars and Obelisco Estate:

Swiftwater Cellars: Christina’s former co-worker, Bob Silver, introduced us to Swiftwater Cellars.  They have what looks like an amazing event space nestled in the Cascade Mountains, a little more than an hour from Seattle.  If their lamb and tuna appetizers were any indication, they also have a fantastic restaurant on site.  Definitely worth looking them up if you’re in the area – and I’m told it’s a great place to bring the whole family.

2012 Swiftwater Cellars – #9 Riesling – Nice fruit, dry, clean and smooth in the mouth, good minerality, very good acidity on the semi-sweet fruit medium-long finish.  This is a very nice US Riesling.  (89 pts.)

2009 Swiftwater Cellars – Proprietary Red – Cabernet dominant left bank Bordeaux-style blend.  Nice nose of dark red fruit and spices.  In the mouth, nice rich dark red/black fruit, some spice, good mouth feel, with nice acidity.  Nice ripe tannins kicking in on the long sweet dark fruit finish.  This is a very nice wine and one to look for in the market.  (92 pts.)

2011 Swiftwater Cellars – Merlot – Dark red cherry fruit with good acidity.  The wine is still very young and a little monolithic at present.  Slightly dry tannins kicking in on the red fruit finish.  This wine needs a little more time in the bottle to come into balance.  (87 pts.)

Sleight of Hand Cellars: We have hung out with Trey from Sleight of Hand Cellars here and there at Washington Wine events through the years, and we’ve always been impressed with the consistent quality of his wines. These wines were no exception.

2011 Sleight of Hand Cellars – Archimage Red Blend – Cabernet Franc and Merlot dominant right bank Bordeaux blend.  Nice spicy very dark red/black fruit nose.  In the mouth, very dark rich fruit of bing cherries and blackberries, some baking spices and very good acidity.  Fine ripe tannins showing up on the long spicy dark black fruit finish.  I was amazed at how well this wine is drinking now for being so young, but it will age very gracefully over the next 10-15 years.  This is a beautiful wine and one to seek out.  (93 pts.)

2011 Sleight of Hand Cellars – The Illusionist Cabernet Sauvignon – Very dark, black fruit and spice on the nose.  In the mouth, very dark and spicy ripe blackberries, black currants and a little bing cherry combine with some baking spices and a little tobacco.  The wine has some great juicy acidity keeping everything lively in the mouth.  The fruit in this wine is very concentrated, dark and tannic, but the tannins are fully ripe and are very fine.  It reminds me of the really dark tannic fruit you can get from the Howell Mountain region in Napa Valley (which I love), but it is approachable now.  This is an absolutely beautiful wine that can be enjoyed today, but will age very well over the next two decades.  I am sure that this wine will sell out, so get it while you can and enjoy it now or save it for a special occasion later.  Bravo!  (94+ pts.)

Obelisco Estate: Another winery that was recommended to us was Obelisco Estate.  Doug Long of Obelisco Estate may be a relatively new guy on the block in the Washington wine making scene, with 2007 being his first Washington vintage, but Doug is not new to winemaking.  Doug was making some great wine in Napa Valley for almost two decades at his winery called David Arthur.  In Christina’s words, she was, “crushing pretty hard on their Syrah.”  They also poured her a little Rose project from behind the table that we’ll review in another post.

2011 Obelisco Estate – Syrah – Sweet red/black fruit and a little spice on the nose.  Good mouth feel, nice dark blackberry and red pie cherry fruit, combine with some spices and good acidity.  The nice ripe tannins are creeping in on the lush dark fruit finish.  This is a very nice Syrah and one to look for.  (92 pts.)

2010 Obelisco Estate – Malbec – Nice dark earthy fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, dark cherry and black currants combine with a little earth and spice.  The wine has good acidity and a medium length dark tannic fruit finish.  (89 pts.)

2011 Obelisco Estate – Cabernet – Sweet dark black fruit and spice on the nose.  In the mouth, very dark rich blackberries, spicy black currants combine with very good acidity keeping everything lively.  This wine has very fine ripe tannins that come in on the long rich spicy dark fruit filled finish.  This is a very nice wine that will age gracefully.  (92 pts.)

I think Doug and Obelisco Estate will do some great things here in Washington, so it is definitely a winery to watch out for.  You can also watch out for more Washington Wine reviews in the coming days…




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