For this, the 50th week of the CorkPopper Project (yikes!), I leave California once again to head north to the great State of Washington. As my regular readers will recall, I was there (in Walla Walla) in June for the 2010 Wine Bloggers’ Conference and am actually headed up again (to Seattle) at the end of this month for the 2010 International Food Bloggers’ Conference. I was truly impressed by the Washington wines I was able to taste while in Walla Walla – especially the reds – and, as such, decided that there absolutely needed to be a week in the CorkPopper Calendar dedicated to Washington reds.
All three of this week’s wines hail from Washington’s Columbia Valley, a huge AVA that actually includes the smaller Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hill, Rattlesnake Hills, Lake Chelan, Snipes Mountain, and Wahluke Slope AVAs. The Columbia Valley AVA stretches along the Columbia River Gorge from Goldendale in the West to past Walla Walla in the East, crosses the border into Oregon in the South and reaches up past Grand Coulee in the North. It is huge. Period. As such, it encompasses a number of different microclimates, which accounts for the creation of the more specific sub-appellations. The Columbia Valley AVA spans the 46th and 47th parallels, which just happen to be the same lattitude as the famous French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, and the northern reaches of the region receive a full two hours’ worth of extra sunlight during the summer growing season that vineyards in California. In addition, although the region is certainly diverse, one common characteristic is its cool nights and warms days with little to no humidity, a combination that allows the grapes to ripen fully while maintaining a near-perfect acid-sugar balance.
With that, let’s meet this week’s contenders…..