MikeL's Guide to WA Wineries
Latah Creek Wine Cellars - Wines

The Wines: (Spring 1996)

Winemaker's notes:
1993 harvest: The 1993 harvest was one of the latest on record for Washington State. The warm summer usually associated with this area never came and Spring seemed to roll right into Fall. Rainfall, fortunately, was minimal during the harvest time or the year could have been disastrous. Many wineries and growers, worried about the lateness of the harvest and the possibility of frost, harvested their grapes sooner than they would have liked. My growers and I allowed the ripening process to continue as long as the weather would permit, harvesting on November 16, with all the color, fruit intensity, and sugar we normally get from these two exceptional vineyards. This was about six weeks later than our normal harvest finish. The big, intense reds we have from this vintage will certainly be the exception rather than the rule for this odd year.

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 Chardonnay: A wonderfully fruity, full bodied Chardonnay. The rich, buttery character seen in the wine is the result of a cool (50 F) primary and a full secondary malolactic fermentation. The long, smooth toasty finish was achieved by four months aging in French oak.
Appellation: Yakima Valley; Vineyard: Roza Vineyard Estates, Sunnyside; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.6, T.A. 0.76, pH 3.35; Harvest date: September 10, 1994

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.
Appellation: Washington State; Vineyard: Wahluke Slope Vineyards; Harvest analysis: Brix 22.8, T.A. 0.82, pH 3.38; Harvest date: September 12, 1994

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 Sauvignon fruit.
Appellation: Yakima Valley; Vineyard: Roza Vineyard Estates, Sunnyside; Harvest analysis: Brix 22.9, T.A. 0.81, pH 3.45; Harvest date: September 5, 1994

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!
Appellation: Yakima Valley; Vineyard: Roza Vineyard Estates, Sunnyside; Harvest analysis: Brix 21.5, T.A. 0.91, pH 3.35; Harvest date: September 20, 1994

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!
Appellation: Yakima Valley; Vineyard: Roza Vineyard Estates, Sunnyside; Harvest analysis: Brix 22.1, T.A. 0.90, pH 3.31; Harvest date: September 18, 1994

1993 Cabernet Sauvignon: This Cabernet is big and bold. An ample amount of tannin balances out the intense fruit nicely. No fining was done on the wine and only minimal filtration was used prior to bottling. I aged the wine for about eight months in medium toasted French oak.
Appellation: Washington State; Vineyard: Wahluke Slope Vineyards; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.8, T.A. 0.72, pH 3.58; Harvest date: November 14, 1993

1993 Merlot: 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.
Appellation: Washington State; Vineyard: Wahluke Slope Vineyards; Harvest analysis: Brix 23.4, T.A. 0.75, pH 3.51; Harvest date: November 13, 1993

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.

This particular 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 wine.
Appellation: Washington State; Vineyard: Crawford Vineyards, Prosser; Harvest analysis: Brix 22.5, T.A. 0.80, pH 3.48; Harvest date: November 11, 1993

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