Fun With Wine

At a Weekly wine tasting a few weeks ago, one of the bottles opened was the recently released 2003 chardonnay from John Abbott’s Abeja Winery in Walla Walla. We all expected to like the wine—though Abeja’s fairly new, Abbott has been making fine wine for other labels for many years. What we did not expect was to like the wine so much that it virtually erased all the others under consideration that day. The compliments were many and varied, but the one that captured the overall mood was: “If Washington can produce a chardonnay this good, why aren’t more winemakers doing it?”

So I called Abbott, and I found out why. “Wines with a lower pH [higher acidity] always seem more balanced and elegant. You tend to have higher acid at ripeness at cooler-climate sites, so we go first to Connor Lee Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, which averages 10 degrees cooler than Wahluke average, and we pick it early as we can, soon as the greenness goes away, at 3, 3.18 pH.

“The next piece of the puzzle comes from the Kestrel View Estates outside Prosser. That site provides the majority of the fruit and basic structure, and we’re pretty finicky about it; the vines are older and more variable, so we pick through at least two or three times to get consistency. The third element of the wine comes from Celilo Vineyard down on the Columbia. The Celilo vines are pruned so that each shoot is left with just one primary cluster, and we actually go through and prune off the ‘shoulders’ [small bunches of grapes perched on top of the main bunch like epaulets] because they can keep the fruit beneath from ripening.”

So Abbott and company harvest four or five times and haul grapes from three sites separated by about 400 miles to make 500 cases of wine? “Uh-huh. We don’t really make it for the money. [The wine retails for about $25.] We have a lot of fun making it. I can’t imagine a harvest without chardonnay: the fragrance that comes out of the press when you open it, that allspice and candy-apple smell of the lees.”

rdowney@seattleweekly.com

More in Eat Drink Toke

The Ganja Gifter

Make sure the stoner in your life has something under this tree that will really make them smile

Sativa, Indica, or … What?

Taking a look at the subspecies of cannabis.

Courtesy photo
Columbia City’s Tasty Charm

Diverse eateries give changing neighborhood its flavor

Who Serves Seattle’s Best Tacos?

Five places to satisfy your craving for Mexican food in the Emerald City.

You Can Call Me Ray, or You Can Call Me Jay…

The word “marijuana” did not come into popular usage among Americans until the 1930s

Your Cannabis News Roundup

East Coast catches up, Jeff Sessions is out, and Canada runs out of weed

Bud in the Bedroom

The best results for bold lovers who are just starting a cannabis courtship is to start slow.

Feel at Home With Seattle’s Ambassador of Senegalese Cuisine

La Teranga serves authentic West African lamb, fish, and more in tiny Columbia City spot

The Rise of Maillard Browned Pan Pizza in Seattle

Satisfy your love of deep-dish without a knife and fork.

Tales of THC Terror

Every last horrible thing has been blamed on weed.

The Great Pumpkin Bong

This will beat your pumpkin spice latte any day.

Poutine Rules at Seattle’s Best Hockey Bar

After the explosion, Tim Pipes nearly threw in the towel. Then, a… Continue reading