Thursday, September 28, 2023 Sep 28, 2023
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What I Am Drinking Now: Walla Walla

By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

AmaviThe Walla Walla  region lies in both Oregon and Washington State.  The Oregon side mey be best known for producing those big, sweet and delicious yellow onions that you could almost eat like an apple they are so tender, tasty good. 

The Walla Walla region of Washington is fast becoming a favorite among those that love special, small production wine from boutique, family owned wineries popping up throughout the remote landscape. 

Nestled near the Columbia River, the region is magnetic and welcoming to locals and visitors alike.  The wine, like its surrounding, is alluring and interesting, with bold flavor profiles.  Unlike the regions just to their south (like Oregon’s Willamette Valley) they focus their wine making efforts on Bordeaux style grapes, like dense Cabernet Sauvignon, clean and crisp Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc (without all that citrus found in many New World options) and incredible Merlot.  Why is their wine so good? 

Contributing factors like mineral rich, volcanic soil from one of the largest basaltic lava flows in the world, combined with remnants of glacier outbursts and flooding that occurred 15,000 years ago throughout the region.  Intense soil equals concentrated flavorful wine.   Dedication to quality over quanity, and maintaining sustainability when possible speaks to why the region, and wine, are so special.  

L’Ecol 41  2007 Semillon– L’Ecol, French for “the school,” was started in 1983 in the basement of the circa 1915 area schoolhouse.  The 2007 Semillon is a lively, aromatic white with spicy, floral aromas and layers of fresh golden apple, apricot, honeysuckle and tangerine flavors.

Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon– This was a recommendation,  with the claim that it is one of the best in the region.  After one taste, I agree.  Small production, the total number of cases produced by the winery runs about 4500 cases, of which 2000 are Cabernet.  Aged in 100% new French oak the wine is nicely balanced, filled with currant, cherry, licorice and leather. 

Northstar Walla Walla Merlot– Sister winery of Washington’s Chateau St. Michelle, the Northstar Merlot has been a favorite of mine for years (even when everyone stopped drinking Merlot.)  Predominantly Merlot with 16% Cabernet and 4% Petit Verdot to round out the flavors and add depth to the wine, this Merlot is concentrated with bright cherry, blackberry and plum aromas, filled with vanilla, cherry and sweet spice flavors. 

Amavi Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – Opened in 2003 as a family owned and operated winery by the Goff, Pellet (the principle winemaker) and McKibben families.  Named after a combination of the Latin root words of “am” (love) and “vi” (life) representing the simple pursuits they follow – love, life, wine.  They craft estate grown, high quality Cabernet, Syrah and Semillon.  Their 2007 Cabernet is filled with black cherry, blackberry, chocolate and nutmeg.