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Jenise

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WTN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:40 pm

About 30 miles from where I live near the base of Washington's Mt. Baker, is a little winery where skiers often stop and buy wine on their way up and back from the Mountain. One could be forgiven, therefore for mistaking the winery for a tourist trap, but it would be a mistake to do so. This is actually a serious little winery making seriously good QPR wines in a minimally oaked European style which suits me to a 'T', so in a fit of hometown pride I proudly serve a lot of their wines here at home. Most of the grapes are shipped in from eastern Washington, but vines around the main building in the cool, rainy shadow of Mt. Baker also produce pinot noir, madeline angevine and siegeurrebe. PINOT NOIR?, I remember asking in major surprise. Yes, they didn't always get ripe enough, I was told, but sometimes.....

Well, I heard the other day that an 02 pinot had been released. And yes--02, Mt. Baker releases its wines much later than most wineries, and 02 is the current release on all their red wines. Anyway, I had to get my lips on that pinot, so I dropped in on Tuesday for a taste. And came away with one of the last three cases.

2002 Mt. Baker Winery Pinot Noir
Barely medium bodied with precise cherry-plum notes and quite a bit of spice. Good acidity with some tannins safely in the background. No apparent oak, and a bit of sweet herbs make a beautiful, expressive wine. Surely this is one of the northern-most pinot noirs made in America, and I'm so proud of these guys for persevering. Just $20.

I also liked:

2002 Mt. Baker Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
From Yakima grapes, big huckleberry black/blue fruit and dusty tannins give this wine a delicious rusticity that's quite different from the more polished style of cab I'm used to from Mt. Baker, and I like this better. Very concentrated--Randy didn't make a Proprietors Reserve in 02 because he made enough in 01 for two years' worth of sales of his top of the line slow seller, so all the best fruit that would usually have been pulled over for the Reserve went into the regular. I liked it so much I bought a half dozen. $14.75 at the cellar door, and it should cost twice that much (but for the culty releases, Washington wines are relatively cheap).
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Marc D

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Re: TN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Marc D » Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:52 pm

Wow, those are pinot noir vines growing in Deming? Amazing. I will have to try a bottle. I wonder what he has growing on the sloped hill in back of the winery. The hill looks like the 'grande cote' compared to the plot of flat land in the front.

Like you, I've found some nice things about Mt Baker's Cabs. They definitely can be rustic, they don't come off as fruit forward, and they are a great bargain.
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Mad Angie...

by TomHill » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:00 pm

I once visited them, Jenise. Found the MadAngie and Siegrebe to be very unusual, but well-made, wines.
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Re: TN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Jenise » Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:18 pm

Marc D wrote:Wow, those are pinot noir vines growing in Deming? Amazing. I will have to try a bottle. I wonder what he has growing on the sloped hill in back of the winery. The hill looks like the 'grande cote' compared to the plot of flat land in the front.

Like you, I've found some nice things about Mt Baker's Cabs. They definitely can be rustic, they don't come off as fruit forward, and they are a great bargain.


Mark, yup, dere's pinot in dem dere hills! The pinot's in the flat part between the building and the highway. It's a superb little wine, and it might not seem quite so little once I get it into a real glass. Good luck finding the pinot, Marc. It''s really not available for tasting (I know Randy well enough to beg), and if I heard right when they drug my case out to me they had less than three cases left. Your best bet would be the Purple Smile. Randy said he poured the pinot there last Saturday.


Tom--you must have been up at Mt. Baker skiing when you visited. Depending on when that was, there's probably been a change in winemaker and the wines are better than ever. I still find the whites overshadowed by the red in that all the whites tend to be a bit more highly RS'd than I care for, but they do some inventive things. Like, one of their best whites last year was fashioned out of underripe Chasselas from their own vineyard spiked with some late harvest Viognier from eastern Washington. A brilliant marriage.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: TN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Marc D » Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:46 am

I found a bottle of the Mt Baker Pinot at Haggens, and had a glass tonight after work. I found a slight smoky note, but otherwise it was pretty much as you described. Very interesting and enjoyable wine.
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Bill Spohn

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Re: TN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Bill Spohn » Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:05 am

Jenise wrote:Surely this is one of the northern-most pinot noirs made in America


If by 'America' you mean the US, you are probably correct.

It just keeps getting better when you go north over the border, though - one of the best performing grapes in BC is Pinot Noir, although growing it out on the coast as opposed to the hotter drier interior is as challenging here as it is in Washington.
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Chasselas

by rumpole » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:43 pm

Jenise,

I too was impressed with the Chasselas (and I drink few whites). I haven't tried the pinot, but believe a few bottles are at a local shop here in Olympia. Time to taste. Your description sounds very close to a Columbia Cascade (between Quincy & Leavenworth) pinot I have tasted from White Heron Winery.

As for the Cab, I am still working on my 1998 Mt. Baker stash.
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Re: TN: Two good new releases from Mt. Baker Winery

by Jenise » Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:25 pm

Marc D wrote:I found a bottle of the Mt Baker Pinot at Haggens, and had a glass tonight after work. I found a slight smoky note, but otherwise it was pretty much as you described. Very interesting and enjoyable wine.


Smoky? That didn't come across to me, but.... Hey, we opened one of those last week but only had a glass each and forgot to recork the bottle. The next day, it tasted dried out and fruitless. More 'gone' than tight, so we didn't even bother to recork the bottle. I was going to dump it but didn't get around to it. The next day, I found the bottle, now open three days, and went to pour it on the rhododendrons. To my amazement, it was back, richer and more resolved than day one, and showing some nice leather notes! Conclusion: that wine has more of a future in front of it than I thought.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Chasselas

by Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:35 pm

rumpole wrote:Jenise,

I too was impressed with the Chasselas (and I drink few whites). I haven't tried the pinot, but believe a few bottles are at a local shop here in Olympia. Time to taste. Your description sounds very close to a Columbia Cascade (between Quincy & Leavenworth) pinot I have tasted from White Heron Winery.

As for the Cab, I am still working on my 1998 Mt. Baker stash.


Rumpole, glad you made it over. It was most frustrating not being able to PM or email you directly!

I don't believe I've even heard of White Heron Winery. Do they grow their own grapes (meaning, are they cool climate Western Washington grapes?)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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White Heron Winery

by rumpole » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:42 pm

Jenise,

White Heron is an estate winery in the Columbia Cascade area (East of Cascade range), on the East side of the Columbia River 30 or 40 miles south of Wenatchee. Cooler than much of the Columbia Valley AVA, but warm enough. Winemaker uses estate vineyards and prefers older oak and holding wine extra before release-more old world. (http://www.whiteheronwine.com) You will find the wines in Wenatchee/Leavenworth area restaurants, but must ask stores on this side of the Cascades to locate.
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Re: White Heron Winery

by Jenise » Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:58 pm

Rumpole,

Thanks for the further information--no wonder I haven't seen White Heron wines. Would you believe I haven't made it over the Cascades yet (well, except on the Canadian side)? Gotta change that soon.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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