An amazing finish: Three wineries wrapped up our tour of Walla Walla - The Buffalo News

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An amazing finish: Three wineries wrapped up our tour of Walla Walla

On our final days in Walla Walla, Washington, we visited three wineries: Gramercy Cellars, Corliss Estates and Figgins.

One of the first Washington State Syrahs I ever tasted was from Gramercy, so I knew it would be a great place to visit; they have amazingly good Syrah and Cabernet. Here is a list of our favorites, all of which I bought to add to my cellar.

2013 John Lewis Syrah Walla Walla, $85

This is a spectacular wine that is delicious right now, but will cellar well for at least a decade, if not more. There is plenty of spice, black pepper, dark and juicy fruit that fill your mouth; the finish is long and wonderful.
2013 Syrah Columbia Valley, $40
This is a great wine for a very reasonable price — I’d match this up against California wines costing double. There was dark fruit and plenty of spice, which is what you look for in a good Syrah.

2013 Lagniappe Syrah Columbia Valley, $55

Also outstanding, this Syrah has all the great spice and dark fruit you’d expect. Buy it if you see it — you will be very happy.

2014 The Deuce Syrah, $50

This is a wine that is worth much more than $50. If I had the space and the money, I might have a special room just for all the terrific wines from Gramercy. This is another example of an outstanding Syrah: plenty of dark fruit and spice.

2012 and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, under $50

Gramercy’s Cabernets are on par with their Syrahs: excellent. I have been drinking the 2012 and it is outstanding. Its $45 price tag belies its value; those who’ve tasted it thought it was a much more expensive bottle. The 2013 is also very nice, but could use a little time to come of age.

Incredibly helpful to our visit to Gramercy was Robbi Ebel, Gramercy’s sales director, who recommended wineries, places to stay and great local restaurants. One recommendation was Andrae’s Kitchen, an awesome place with an extensive, delicious menu… that just so happens to be located in a gas station. I’ve learned to not judge a restaurant by its location: ironically, one of my favorite restaurants in WNY — Linguine’s — is located in a gas station plaza, too.

Corliss Estates

Our next stop was Corliss Estates, a winery I discovered several years ago (and have been enjoying since). This is high-class wine, and the winery was beautiful. Corliss wines are held significantly longer than most others, and a couple additional years in the bottle make them much more approachable at release. I’ve never tasted a Corliss I didn’t like. Each bottle is hand numbered, with six bottles to a wooden case, and the current release is 2011. The Syrahs are some of the best coming out of Washington, and the Cabernet is awesome.


I have always loved Leonetti wines and have had a number of their Cabernets over the years, although they’ve never been widely available. Three years ago I read about Figgins wines. Chris Figgins, who runs the winery, is the son of Gary Figgins of Leonetti Wine. So I had high hopes for Figgins.

It did not disappoint. We started out with six bottles of the Figgins 2011 Cabernet ($85) and we were blown away. Although I still crave Leonetti, this is right up there. I’ve had several vintages of Figgins Cabernet since, and each one is excellent. I’ve also had Figgins Riesling and it is outstanding at around $30 per bottle. These Washington wine stars match up against the big boys from Napa at a fraction of the price.

Homeward bound

Just when we thought our wine trip was over, we drove to Spokane to catch our plane home and there, in the middle of the airport, was a wine bar. What a way to wrap up an amazing week of wine tours: we enjoyed a nice bottle of Chateau St. Michelle to end our Washington adventure.

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