Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gordon Brothers Celebrates History and Heritage In Their Wines

On a recent visit to Gordon Brothers Winery, on the banks of the Snake River on the Pasco-Kahlotus highway in Southeastern Washington, I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know the family, the winemaker, and the wines better than I ever imagined.

I’ve known the Gordon Brothers owners, Jeff and Vicki, and their children for many years. I sit next to them in church on Sunday mornings. See them at local events. I’ve enjoyed a bottle of Gordon Brothers wine many, many times over the years. However, I had never really gotten to know the Gordons or their wines until a few weeks ago when I was invited to come out to the vineyards for a visit.

As I pulled into the driveway of the simple, but well kept facility I realized that this is not a tasting room for the daily tourist trade, and that I was entering a private winery as a special guest. Always the snoop, I realized quickly from the no-spray signs and other organic markers that I was sitting in a truly organic vineyard, which is rare for this region.

Stepping out of my car I was met with a firm handshake by the winemaker, Tim Henley as he and his staff were washing barrels to be filled. Henley comes to the Gordon Brothers via way of a few famous Central Coast and Napa California wineries including being enologist or assistant at Byron, Zaca Mesa, Pine Ridge, Luna, and Clos Pegase.

As we tasted through barrels and bottles one thing really stood out to me in Henley’s short tenure at the winery… is his genius at pulling flavors from different oak, different blocks, and different processes to create depth and balance from the first sniff, until the last tannin leaves your palate.

Over the next few articles I want to share with you what I tasted that day in the bottles from the Gordon Brothers vineyards, and where I think the family and their skilled winemaker are taking their wines in the next few years.

First, I thought I would start with the winery’s newest baby. Their second label called Kamiak. Kamiak is a two wine labeling including a white blend and a red blend. Named after the famous Yakima chief Kamiak, the family wanted to honor the Yakimas who began the initial irrigation of the Columbia Valley. It was also to honor the Gordon’s grandfather who founded Kamiak ranch in 1907, and gave the family their Eastern Washington farming roots.

The 2008 Kamiak Windust White is a nicely balanced white blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc mixed with 10% Chardonnay. Henley’s work with both juices is very skillful, but blended this wine fills the nose with a mixture of apricots and baking spices. The flavor is nicely balanced between bright cherries, apples, and a mint, mineral, and delicious acidic finish. I would highly recommend this wine with seafood, white sauces, and salads.

The 2007 Kamiak Rock Lake Red is a blend of 4 different grapes. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon provides the base, with 26% Merlot, 25% Syrah, and 5% Malbec to finish the depth of the palate in this blend. The nose presents with pepper and dark fruits, opening to lush cherries, blackberries, and plums on the tongue. The finish is long, with soft tannins.

Next week I will share several other wines that build the Gordon Brothers portfolio. If you want to taste these wines they will be available in the region for the first time at a new release tasting at Great Pacific in Pendleton on December 18th starting at 5:00.


1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you were able to visit this winery. We featured Kamiak's Cellar Select blend (Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay/Gewurztraminer)in our January Classic Series. While I'm not generally crazy about Washington Sauvignon Blancs, Washington Chardonnays are excellent, and this rather unusual blend of varietals (a Bergundy grape, a German grape, and a South of France grape) works extraordinarily well together. Though making up only 5% of the blend, the Gewurztraminer certainly makes its presence known, while the Sauvignon Blanc lends to the mixture an acidity in the palate and piquancy in the finish.

    The history of Chief Kamiakin and his contribution to Columbia Valley's irrigation system lends to the label a rich sense of history as well.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts,

    Paul Kalemkiarian
    President, Wine of the Month Club


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