waitsburg cellars news and reviews

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When I launched Waitsburg Cellars with my partners at Precept Wines it was a straight shot into unknown waters. As I’ve written here before, I had never considered the possibility of making wine until the opportunity was presented. I quickly decided to throw caution to the wind and put some skin in the game. A year later, the first wines were released, and now, some months down the road, I am able to breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to making the next vintage.

I’ve just returned from meetings in Seattle with the sales team at Unique, and a more excited and motivated group I could not hope for. I poured the wines at Vino Volo on Friday, chatting with a mix of travelers on their way in, out and through town. One couple, heading back home to Bordeaux, found the Three Red especially interesting, for its unusual blend of Bordeaux and Rhone grapes.

On Saturday I poured wines again, this time at Whole Foods in Lynnwood, where many busy shoppers stopped to sip, chat, and comment on the wines. Much like my previous Seattle visits, when I poured at Wine World, West Seattle Cellars, and the McCarthy & Schiering shops, it provided a most valuable perspective and assessment of the wines. Instant reviews, straight from the consumer to me. That’s something new in my experience.

Also new is the anxiety associated with having one’s own wines reviewed by THE PRESS. Hey, I am the press, and I have always felt a sincere responsibility to honor and respect the hard work and sacrifice that goes into making wines, by giving all wines that I review my full attention and best effort as a critic. But that is WAAAAY different from being on the other side of the fence, as I have been these past months.

By now the Waitsburg Cellars wines have been reviewed by many of the Northwest writers, and have also made a good impression among those who write for a national audience. Most recently, in the August issue of Sunset (page 96), Sara Schneider spotlights the 2012 Chevray as “an intense, fascinating mouthful of fresh green apple, tart peach, gentle lemon, and exotic spices.” Nice photo too, with Chevray perched next to a bottle from Domaine Huet, the King of Vouvray.

And just this past weekend came news of an upcoming review that will run in the Wine Spectator’s September issue. Harvey Steiman gives 90 points to Waitsburg Cellars 2011 Three Red and writes: “Fresh and vibrant, with tension among the black cherry, mint and spice flavors, mingling effortlessly on the long and deftly balanced finish. Merlot, Malbec and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2016.”

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was delighted with both of these reviews, and with many others that preceded them. And yes the scores are important, and sell wine, but the words reach deeper, because they tell me that these wines have hit the targets that I set for them mentally when they were nothing more than creative concepts. The comments I hear over and over from reviewers, distributors, retailers and consumers, are that they are delighted to find Washington wines that are moderate in price, balanced and aromatic, structured for early drinking but capable of some aging, and relatively low in alcohol.

Of course such wines have always existed, but the impression out there in the retail world seems to be that they are something of a rarity. Showcasing old vine aromatic white wines, one of the main goals for Waitsburg Cellars, will continue to be a priority, as will the creation of the most unusual blend of Merlot, Malbec and Mourvèdre called Three. The 2012 Three is already in the bottle, and will be joined by a 2013 Three White when the next big release occurs in 2014.

Meanwhile, my visits to the vineyards, brainstorming sessions with the winemaking/viticultural team, and my ongoing commitment to honing, fine-tuning and expanding the concepts behind all the Waitsburg Cellars wines will, I am sure, lead to further learning adventures, challenges and discoveries. I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed their time and talent to making the initial launch of Waitsburg Cellars a success.

On the Waitsburg Cellars Facebook page there is a regularly updated list of retailers and restaurants currently offering some or all of these wines. Please enter any others that are not listed. These wines may also be purchased online here.

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