ross andrew winery

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Based on the buzz they receive, the ever-proliferating, year-end, Top 100 “Best of…” lists are a hit. The wineries listed feel as if they’ve hit the jackpot, and the trade is happy to capitalize on anything that says a wine is “special.” Consumers and readers with a particular interest in certain wineries are drawn to these lists like toast to butter.

But there is a downside, and I’ve been chewing on it, since putting out my own Top 100 last week. To put it simply, it is foolish to think that any Top 100 list is really what it says it is – the one hundred best wines out of a tasting pool of thousands. Efforts to winnow it down, as I do by focusing exclusively on Washington wines, are only partially successful.

Even in the five years I’ve been doing my Washington list, the number of wineries has almost doubled, and I would imagine the number of candidate wines has as well. So the pool keeps getting deeper, the competition tougher, and inevitably, some very good wines and wineries will be left out.

All that said, I was brought up short yesterday when I made my regular bi-weekly trip to my storage locker to open, sort, and organize wines for upcoming tastings. As I looked through all the boxes and bins, I found to my dismay that a pair of wines that had been submitted some time ago had inadvertently been misplaced and overlooked. I should have reviewed these wines long before compiling my Top 100, but in this instance I simply blew it.

Ross Andrew Winery is the Woodinville-based project of Alexandra and Ross Andrew Mickel. Ross cut his winemaking teeth at Betz Family, and I can’t imagine a better person with whom to learn artisanal winemaking than MW Bob Betz. Mickel learned well, and from the first releases, his wines have shown the dedication to craft, detail, cleanliness, focus and terroir that together define this state’s best.

Either of the two wines I just tasted would easily qualify for a Top 100 recommendation. The Ross Andrew 2008 Boushey Vineyard Syrah perfectly captures this spectacular vineyard’s flavor “stamp” – a beguiling mix of aromas, flavors and textures that begin with orange peel and moist earth and unfold across the palate in a graceful jumble. Streaks of compost, raw meat, tart berry and good funk run together seamlessly, creating a supple, continuously enjoyable wine that just doesn’t want to quit. Notably, the alcohol is listed at just 13.8% – and it feels natural and fully-ripe at that level. $34 is the list price; 551 cases were made.

Checking the website you will find this remarkable offer for very limited 3L and 5L bottles of this wine:

“Plain and simple: you purchase it and drink it; we refill it with the next vintage of Boushey Vineyard Syrah. Twice. There’s no time limit, so whenever you find the occasion to open the bottle, we’ll refill it with whatever vintage we’re bottling next. It’s our way of helping you make the decision to open this bottle for your next party. We’ll also re-etch it with the new vintage.”

Pretty cool idea!

Also tasted was the Ross Andrew 2009 Celilo Vineyard Pinot Gris. Celilo Vineyard is profiled in my new book (as is Boushey) as one of the real treasures of Washington state, and is certainly one of the most distinctive. Here is a rarity among rarities – a Washington Pinot Gris from old vines dating back to the 1970s.

Spicy and tart, with New World fruit flavors of melon and pear set in a wine with Old World craftsmanship and sensibilities – just 12.5% alcohol, bone dry, fully ripened, laden with minerality. Vivid and long, it’s a gem that would be a perfect start to a holiday feast. $18 is the list price. For purchase information, contact or visit the winery.

14810 NE 145th Street
Suite A2
Woodinville, WA 98072
Located 1/4 mile east of Ch. Ste. Michelle; just north of the Hollywood Schoolhouse


Anonymous said...

Ross Andrew is my favorite winery. I was waiting for it in the list and was suprised it was not there. Thanks!

socgray said...

Wonderful wines and a wonderful family. Thanks for profiling two of our favorites from them!

The New White House said...

Good to see this news! I am in the process of buying one of the 5L bottles from Ross! He is an absolute gentleman and a heck of a winemaker! Can't wait to get that bottle home to TX!

Unknown said...

Dear Paul - We always look forward to your list and marvel at how you mange to parse all this out. It's very solid. And as a winemaker and winery owner who regularly sends out wine samples into "outer space" - I also appreciate your honesty! You are a true pro. Yours truly Trio Vintners, Walla Walla

PaulG said...

Thank you all for the kind words. Now maybe Ross will remove the pins from his Paul Gregutt doll.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great post Paul. I'm thrilled you like the wines and appreciate your taking the time to let us know just how much you do. Pins removed so you can enjoy the rest of your holiday season! Ross Mickel

Chuck D said...

I travel all the way from South Carolina just to taste and purchase Ross Andrew's wines. Now I am shipping them to friends and bringing friends out to Seattle to learn how great Washington State wines are. (They very much liked Ross Andrew offerings.) Not only is the Pinot Gris excellent, but Meadow is also a great blended white that we have really enjoyed.

Chris said...

Paul, I snuck into Woodinville and bought some of the 08 Ross Andrew Boushey Syrah before you posted this. It should all disappear quickly now.

Also, I bought a copy of your 2nd edition today to send to a friend in Florida. I've read some other WA/NW wine books too recently, but yours is still the undisputed best work on the topic.

Cheers from the Yak.

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