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I’m back from Washington State where I attended a conference and I tasted many new wines. I also became reacquainted with an old favorite—the DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc, an homage to the whites of Bordeaux and part of a flight of wines that I’m calling my discovery of the weekend—wines that are every bit as complex as the French whites they are modeled on.
It was on Day 3 of the conference that we visited wineries in the Walla Walla AVA—including Buty Winery, where my group participated in a Judgment of Paris-style tasting that pitted Washington wines against a mystery white—revealed to us at the end to be the Château Pape Clément Blanc 2005—a venerable contender from the Left Bank of Bordeaux.
The Washington wines were from three different producers—Buty Winery, DeLille Cellars, and L’Ecole No 41. They were all made with Semillon—either 100 percent as in the 2005 L’Ecole No 41; blended with Sauvignon Blanc as in the DeLille; or with a hint of Muscadelle as in the wine from Buty.
All of these wines were complex and layered with rich citrus, stone, and melon fruit, refreshing acidity, interesting flavors, and aromas that were herbal, nutty, smoky, and honeyed.
And what about the Pape Clément? It was exactly what should be expected from an estate that had had seven centuries to hone its craft—amazing and complex with a funky, slightly oxidized nose and that same honeyed nuttiness layered onto a crisp, citrus frame.
Still, I have to say that for those of us with a more modest budget, you won’t be sacrificing much in flavor or complexity by asking for one of these bottles from Washington State.
A 25-year veteran of the wine and hospitality industry, George Staikos is known for his role as an educator, sharing his passion for wine appreciation. He is the founder and president of the Educated Grape, a company specializing in interactive education programs and in-home wine entertaining for wine enthusiasts and companies. He is a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality Management, where he teaches “Introduction to the Study of Wine.” He is also Vice Echanson or regional wine director for the mid-Atlantic region for the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a worldwide food-and-wine organization.
Staikos is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He is married with three children and lives in Flemington.