Taste Washington, Review #3 – Gramercy Cellars and Long Shadows

It’s no secret, we’re big fans of Gramercy Cellars.  We’ve been known to take their wines on our trips and share them with folks in places like Sun Valley and Bordeaux…we just think Greg Harrington is doing a great job.  I have a tendency to prefer wines with slightly higher acidity because they work so well with many different types of food, and Gramercy Cellars wines are great food wines.  Having good acidity in a wine is so important when it comes to aging as well, and the wines from Gramercy Cellars age beautifully.  If you haven’t tried the wines from Gramercy Cellars, you owe it to yourself to buy a bottle and see what makes Washington wine so exciting.  Greg’s wines are world-class.

Here’s what we tried at Taste Washington:

2011 Gramercy Cellars – Mourvedre “L’Idiot du Village” – Nice earthy dark red bing cherry nose.  In the mouth, sweet dark red cherries and plums combine with a dark earthy and slightly spicy complexity.  This wine has very good acidity, moderate tannins and a medium-long sweet dark red fruit finish.  This will be a great food wine.  You don’t see much in the way of Mourvedre wines in Washington State, but this one from Gramercy Cellars shows some real potential for the grape here.  (91 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Nice sweet dark blackberry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red bing cherries combine with a slight savory cured/smoked meat flavor.  This wine has nice acidity and very fine tannins that keep everything in balance on the long sweet dark fruit filled finish.  (93+ pts.)

2007 Gramercy Cellars – Syrah, Walla Walla – Very dark blackberry and spice on the nose.  In the mouth, again, very dark blackberries, baking spices and a wonderful savory cured/smoked meat.  The wine has good acidity and the savory dark fruit carries through on the long spicy finish.  The 2007 Syrah is darker and richer than the 2010 Syrah at present, but it has also had a few more years for the flavors to meld together and evolve.  This wine is in an absolutely beautiful place right now.  If you have some of the 2007 Syrah in your cellar, I would encourage you to open one – you won’t be disappointed.  While the 2007 Syrah is drinking well right now, there isn’t a rush to drink it, enjoy it over the next decade.  (95 pts.)

2010 Gramercy Cellars – Cabernet Sauvignon – Nice black cherry fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark black cherry, blackberry and black currants combine together with a little spice.  This wine has some very good acidity keeping everything alive and singing in the mouth.   The wine is very dark, with the primary flavors showing now, but it is just a baby.  The tannins are present on the long dark fruit finish, but they are ripe and very fine.  This is a very nice wine that you can enjoy now, but you will be greatly rewarded by holding on to it for another 3-5 years as the secondary flavors develop.  (93+ pts.)


We also tasted Long Shadows. We had a spectacular tasting at their winery a few years ago, arranged by a friend.  We were already familiar with the wines, but the tasting allowed us to learn more about all of the wines and their individual story and philosophy. Here’s some background: Long Shadows brings seven highly acclaimed vintners from the major wine regions of the world to Washington State, each an owner-partner in a unique winery dedicated to producing Columbia Valley wines that showcase the best of the Washington growing region.

After leaving Chateau Ste. Michelle in 2000, Allen Shoup was committed to furthering the potential of winemaking in the Columbia Valley.  He spent the next three years developing Long Shadows,with the vision to recruit a cadre of the finest winemakers in the world; give each vintner access to Washington State’s best grapes; and outfit a winery to accommodate a diverse group of winemakers’ exacting cellar specifications.  Today, wine legends such as Michel Rolland, Randy Dunn, John Duval and Philippe Melka make up the dream team of celebrated vintners bringing critical acclaim to these Washington wines.

Here are the wines we tasted:

2010 Saggi  (Super Tuscan Blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) – Spicy dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark red cherries, blackberry and a little red currant combine with a spicy dark earthy character.  This wine has very good acidity and a good dose of ripe tannin on the long spicy dark fruit finish.  I have always enjoyed the Italian styled Saggi.  It is one of the relatively new and different styled wines that Washington State is producing more of these days.  (92 pts.)

2010 Chester Kidder – Cabernet Sauvignon – Black fruit nose.  In the mouth, very dark black cherries and black currants combine with a slight savory component.  This wine has good acidity and very fine tannins on the long but slightly dry dark fruit finish.  This wine is still very young and needs a couple more years in the bottle for everything to meld together.  (93 pts.)

2010 Sequel – Syrah – Sweet dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, dark blackberries and red cherries combine with a little bit of spice.  This wine has good acidity and fine tannins on the medium-long sweet/spicy dark fruit finish.  (91 pts.)

All in all, these two wineries represent some of the best Washington has to offer, both in quality and price point.  We certainly hope they will remain that approachable as the region matures!


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