W.T. Vintners
Part 5, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine growing regions

Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen is wine director at RN74 in Seattle. He's now also a boutique winemaker in the Woodinville Warehouse district, making tiny quantities of some of Washington State's most compelling wines under the label W.T. Vintners. He made wine for the first time in 2007 with a friend in a domestic garage. His current premises aren't a whole lot bigger!

I asked Jeff about style. 'The hope is elegance,' he replied. 'I want wines that are complementary to a broad spectrum of cuisines. I will never make Cabernet Sauvignon. I want to work with extraordinary vineyards. Burgundy and the Rhne is where my heart is.'

 

He thinks that Syrah is the future here. 'In 20 years' time Washington State will be known for Syrah. Cabernet grows well in Washington; Syrah reflects the place it is grown in Washington. It is important to be champions of special places. We work with extraordinary growers and extraordinary sites, and I want to champion those places, usually through the lens of Syrah.'

'I start all ferments native, but I don't have the balls or the money for things to go wrong. If I have a stuck ferment I'll make a pied de cuve; if I do inoculate I'll make a blend of yeasts and let them battle for dominance.'

'A lot of Washington winemakers didn't have the context to start with, when they began. In my paying job I've had the fortune to taste lots of great wines. These are Washington wines, but I know what these old world Benchmarks are supposed to taste like, and it gives me great perspective and some motivation to rein it in with pick dates and acidity in the wines.'

'We have a short, hot growing season,' says Jeff. 'Site specificity is paramount.' He likes to work more naturally, but is pragmatic. 'In 2013 I had to do some acid additions,' he says, honestly. 'It kills me; it hurts me to my soul.'

Cold damage is the biggest viticultural threat here. 'Twice a decade we have pretty monster frosts. If the sap hasn't descended, you get a lot of vascular damage.'  

 

THE WINES

WT Vintners Celilo Vineyard 'Parasol' Ros 2014 Columbia Gorge, Washington State
Pale but bright pink. Fresh and with some texture showing apple, pear and cherry fruit with good acidity. 89/100

WT Vintners Gruner Veltliner Underwood Mountain Vineyard 2014 Columbia Gorge, Washington State
Textured and a bit creamy with nice pure melon and pear fruit, as well as a hint of pepper. Very stylish with lovely fruit presence. 90/100

WT Vintners Stonyvine Vineyard 'Dalliance' 2012 Walla Walla, Washington State
41% Mourvedre, 36% Syrah, 23% Grenache. Fourth fill barrel. Beautiful nose of olive, red cherries, meat, blackberries, a hint of pepper. Supple and elegant with pure, berrryish fruit. Has some nice spiciness. 93/100

WT Vintners Stonyvine Vineyard 'Dalliance' 2013 Walla Walla, Washington State
53% Syrah, 37% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. Lovely pure, ripe, sweet red cherry and blackberry fruit with a smooth texture. Deliciously warm and sweet, but with potential for development. 92/100

WT Vintners Syrah Stonyvine Vineyard 2013 Walla Walla, Washington State
75% whole cluster. Meaty and aromatic with olive and black cherry nose. Supple, elegant, smooth palate with a lovely peppery edge. Very stylish with an almost Burgundian feel to it. Fine and pure with a core of sweet fruit. 94/100

WT Vintners Desting Ridge Vineyard 'Gorgeous' Syrah 2011 Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
From a vineyard planted in 1998 with Phelps clone Syrah, this is 50% whole cluster. Focused, pure and silky with fine black cherry fruit and some delicate peppery notes. Raspberry freshness and lovely purity and definition. 94/100

WT Vintners Desting Ridge Vineyard 'Gorgeous' Syrah 2012 Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
From a vineyard planted in 1998 with Phelps clone Syrah, this is 50% whole cluster. Fresh and elegant with nice purity, good texture, and some peppery notes. Bright black cherries and blackberries with an elegance and freshness. Direct and pue. 93/100

WT Vintners Damavian Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Block 30 2011 Walla Walla, Washington State
50% whole cluster. Silky, open and appealing, showing black cherry fruit with a nice peppery spiciness. Ripe yet supple and focused with a long peppery finish. 94/100

WT Vintners Damavian Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Block 30 2012 Walla Walla, Washington State
This was 90% whole cluster. Subtle meat and olive with black cherry and plum fruit. Nice grip and texture with a spicy, peppery edge. Expressive and delicious, this is a brilliant wine. 94/100

WASHINGTON STATE WINES
Introduction
Betz 
Columbia Winery
De Lille
WT Vintners
Savage Grace
Chateau Ste Michelle
Andrew Will
Airfield Estates
Hedges
Milbrandt Vineyards
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
Col Solare
Powers/Badger Mountain
J Bookwalter
Pacific Rim
Gordon Estate
Long Shadows
Seven Hills
Charles Smith
Geology with Kevin Pogue
Leonetti
Woodward Canyon
Gramercy Cellars
L'Ecole No 41
Columbia Crest
Maryhill
Memaloose/Idiot's Grace
COR Cellars
Syncline

Wines tasted 06/15  
Find these wines with
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