Tom's blog

Washington's best is pretty damn good

There was a time -- decades ago -- when Washington state's wines were poorly represented. Those that were broadly distributed weren't that good either. Fast forward today: they are as good as anything made in Napa Valley.

Like any region, Washington's Columbia Valley slowly prospered as pioneering winemakers began to understand the soil and climate. Today the wine giant Chateau Ste. Michelle dominates the market -- and makes outstanding, well-priced wines -- but hundreds of small, craft wineries have found a niche.

I was in Woodinville yesterday and astounded by the number of tasting rooms that beckon to tourists and locals who can hop from one to the other by foot. Woodinville is a quaint slice of Washington life with tony restaurants and shops. It should be a must-stop for you.

Yesterday's highlight was Long Shadows, a group of wines made under one general winemaker but with the guidance of well-known winemakers, including Randy Dunn (Dunn Wines), Michel Rolland (renown French wine consultant), John Duval (Penfold's Grange), Philippe Melka (Napa's Quintessa) and Gilles Nicault (France and Washington's Woodward Canyon). Each of these prominent winemakers crafts one of a handful extraordinary wines in the Long Shadows red wine portfolio.

Overseeing all of this is Allen Shoup, who was the CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle during its growth years. 

The ones I was able to taste were full-bodied, ready for the cellar, and complex. They include the 2014 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon (Dunn), 2014 Pedestal Merlot (Rolland), 2014 Pirouette blend of bordeaux grapes (Milka), 2014 Chester-Kidder cab/syrah blend (Nicault) and 2014 Sequel syrah (Duval).

This is a very interesting concept.