The Wines: (Spring 1996)
1994 Harvest: The 1994 harvest was one of the earliest and quickest. Harvest for Latah Creek started nearly two weeks earlier than normal on September 5th and ended in just 14 days on September 19th. This was a very odd year in two ways: an early, quick harvest and a reduced crop yield. As the first grapes were being received by wineries, panic set in -- tonnages were down nearly 40% in some vineyards. Cluster counts (a way of estimating crop size) were well within normal limits, but individual grape cluster weights were way down. Theories as to why range from the very cool spring and hot summer resulting in an inefficient bloom, to rain during bloom causing the same. We do know, though, that the very warm summer, in conjunction with the smaller clusters, caused the early harvest. The one up side to this unusual vintage is the incredibly rich, full bodied wines that resulted. The whites are the best I've seen in a long time and the reds are dark and jammy.
1994 Feather Chardonnay:
The Feather Chardonnay is a lighter style, softer Chardonnay. The
uniqueness of this wine actually starts in the vineyard by picking the
grapes sooner than we would for our regular Chardonnay. The earlier
harvest gives us a finished wine with a little less alcohol and a
slightly higher acid. I don't encourage a malolactic fermentation so
all the freshness of the grape is retained. The wine is finished with
a short stay in French oak prior to bottling.
1994 Sauvignon Blanc:
Crisp and lively perfectly describes this Sauvignon Blanc. This is a
wonderfully balanced, nearly dry wine that complements the cuisine of
the Pacific Northwest. Sauvignon Blanc has long been the choice of
oyster lovers everywhere because of its clean fruit. This wine's
aromas of pear and grapefruit show off the prettiness of the
1994 Chenin Blanc:
Exotic floral aromas highlight the intense nose of this wine. Tiers of
pineapple, mango and other tropical fruit flavors give way to a lingering,
slightly sweet finish. A great Chenin Blanc!
1994 Johannisberg Riesling:
Great aromas of pineapple and flavors of lemon meringue highlight this
slightly sweet, German-style Riesling. Fermentation was carried out in
stainless steel tanks under temperature controlled conditions averaging
46 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, fermentation down to the
finished residual sweetness of 2.5% took nearly six weeks. A great
summer picnic wine!
A wonderful Merlot. The tannins leave a slight drying sensation in
the mouth, but the berry fruit lingers on and on. This wine is very
approachable now, but will soften even more in the next few years. As
with all our reds, no fining was done, and only minimal filtration
prior to bottling. Aging was accomplished in medium toasted French
oak for six months.
1993 Lemberger: Lemberger came here to Washington State from central Europe (known there by three names: Kekfrancos in Hungary, Blauer Frankische in Austria, Limburger/Lemberger in Germany) with a single experimental vineyard planting in 1976. The first commercial bottling of Lemberger wine came in 1980 and soon it proved to be more popular among the local public than such varietals as Cabernet or Pinot Noir. It's easy to see why: it has a characteristic dark color, bright berry-like fruit, and a velvety feel on the palate. Whether made in a light, fruity style, without any oak contact, or in a more serious, oak- aged fashion, it is appealing in its youth. Today, Lemberger is made commercially in small quantities by only a handful of Washington wineries.
Lemberger has often been called Washington's Zinfandel, but unlike Zinfandel, it thrives in cool temperatures and ripens earlier than other red varieties. This grape is winter-hardy and grows vigorously in the conditions of the Pacific Northwest.
Lemberger shows more signs of the cool, late-ripening than any of the
other reds from the 1993 vintage. A much higher acid was attained
than normal and the tannins are softer. A real nice summer barbecue
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