Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Beautiful View, Nice People, and Great Wine at Kitzke Cellars
Being a wine writer has its benefits, however, I'm usually met with clenched teeth behind the smiles when I visit a tasting room. This was clearly not the case with my visit to Kitzke Cellars this week. As a matter of fact, I received a nicely done e-mail, a phone call from my old friend Robin who now works with Kitzke, and a very warm greeting at the tasting room door by none other than Vickie and Paul Kitzke, the owners.
Kitzke Cellars is located just off Dallas road in West Richland. The easiest way to get there is take Interstate 82 to the Dallas Road exit. Go North, past Goose Ridge winery about 500 yards and you will see the signs on the west side of the road. The winery is located among several nice homes, at the top of the hill overlooking the entire Tri-Cities, Hanford, and the Columbia Reach. The view from the front of the tasting room is truly breathtaking.
The Kitzkes opened their tasting room officially 2 months ago. The family has been actively involved in orchards in the region since the 1970s. Slowly over recent years their orchards have been transformed into vineyards, and now they've started producing their own wines.
As I mentioned, I was met at the door by a very gracious Vickie Kitzke, soon followed by other tasting room staff, and last but not least, Paul.
First to taste was the winery's “Upside Down” label. It is a fun red-blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Syrah, and a balance of Cab Franc. Made and labeled in honor of their professional snowboarding son, the wine has flavors of plum, blackberry, and spice. A nice wine for $10.
Next I got to meet the Kitzke's beautiful daughter Janaina, and the wine that her parents named after her. Janaina Sensacao 2006 is a delicate red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. The wine is ripe with berry fruit, rhubarb, peppery spices, and a soft tannic finish.
Beyond their blends the Kitzkes have an enormous selection of single varietals as well.
The Sangiovese offers a nose and mouth-full of bright cherries, raspberries, and spice box. The light fruit mixed with a nice level of acidity blends well with the short tannins and alcohol to produce a great food wine. I would love to have this with putanesca sauce and penne pasta.
One of my weaknesses is for a good Cabernet Franc. It is hard to do Cabernet Franc well, and I think that the Kitzkes have done a great job with this one. Dark, ripe fruit is balanced nicely with herbs and floral accents. Soft tanins mix with the herbal qualities to give this wine a nice finish.
Next, I tasted the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine offers a nice delicate mouth feel. I could clearly taste the fruit, the mocha on the mid-palate, and the lightly herbal finish to this wine.
I've saved my favorites for last. Kitzke's Syrah and Nebbiolo are definitely the stars of their lineup. My hardest time with these wines was choosing which one I was going to buy a few bottles of. The Syrah offers bright fruit on the front, dark berries on the mid-palate, and a soft finish of spice and lingering fruit. The Nebbiolo is complicated and beautiful. Anise and dark fruit on the front of the palate, mixed with herbs, violets, and finishing with dark cherry and vanilla.