One of Washington State’s premier wineries is Maryhill Winery, located in Goldendale WA, just north of the Columbia River. It’s built on a hillside which yields incredible vistas of the gorge and surrounding areas and even features its own outdoor amphitheater. At near 70,000 case of wine each year, Maryhill isn’t exactly a small winery yet it encapsulates many of the finer “boutique” winery hallmarks in its wine-making philosophy.
Maryhill is one of the state’s few producers of Zinfandel and so far has done a pretty good job with this grape – it’s available in both a “regular” type and a “Proprietor’s Reserve” – a label Maryhill regards as its best wine-making efforts.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with three of their wines and here are my thoughts:
(Keep in mind, these are only my opinions and you should always, at all cost, trust your own palate!)
2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay – 14.3% Alcohol
Price: $20 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%
Color: The color of this Chardonnay is completely on-point with a good light-goldenness which does a great job of presenting itself in a very inviting way.
Smell: When I first started sniffing this wine I was really worried that it was over-oaked and would come off like all too many of the California Chardonnay’s do – to be honest, I was a bit scared it’d taste like I had a piece of oak furniture in the glass. I suppose some folks like that, but I’m not at all a huge fan of over-oaked wines (white or red).
Taste: Fortunately, the taste was far tamer than the smell! This wine has very nice flavor layering going on. It starts off with those nice vanilla accents from the oak on the front-end and quickly goes to fruit across the mid-palate, leaving a nice long finish of honey, pear, apricot and a hint of apple. I also get a hint of toasted marshmallow which I really like. Craig Larson (the winemaker) did a great job of keeping the oak at bay and bringing out the great fruity flavors of this grape.
Mouth-feel: This is one of the few whites I’ve had recently which have an incredible mouth-feel and texture. It’s very smooth and a bit silky – I like it.
Food: I’d easily pair this with the following:
– Classic Caesar Salad with fresh Parmigianino Reggiano cheese and real bacon chunks
– Shrimp Scampi
– Fettuccini Alfredo
– Brie Cheese
2004 Sangiovese – 14.2% Alcohol W.E.P. Scale Rating:80%
Color: Like the Chardonnay, the color of this Sangiovese is beautiful – a luscious deep red with good viscosity and vigor.
Smell: A huge nose here folks – almost a bit like Chris Farley doing the Motivational Speaker – it’s right there in your nose and I enjoy every minute of it. I get deep cherry flavor, a touch of cinnamon and plum notes and of course the toastiness from the oak barrels it was aged in.
Taste: This is a very good wine and the taste is completely in agreement with the smell of the wine. The Cherries, the cinnamon and plum action are all here, sitting in the glass. I do get a bit of a garden herb component which I’m really liking and the overall finish is pretty good but a touch hot. (Note: I did chill the wine a tad to see if the “hotness” was affected and while it was a bit better, it was still there) – I know some folks won’t dig that action.
Mouth-feel: Very clean and for the most part, smooth.
Food: The following foods would be fantastic with this Sangiovese:
– Spaghetti and Meatballs
– Any creamy-tomato sauce-based pasta
– Certain pizza’s
– Crusted Veal Chop in a marinara sauce
– Beef stroganoff
2005 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel – 15.4% Alcohol –
Price: $38 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%
Color: Deep purple, very deep in fact. A gorgeous purple that reminds me of a very rich-colored Malbec or Syrah.
Smell: All you Zin-lovers out there will need to really seek this wine out – even if to just sit and smell it awhile – classic Zin components are laser-focused on the nose. It’s as if your grandma took a jar of her homemade blackberry/plum/dark cherry preserves, added white pepper, bitter (extra dark) chocolate and dumped it into a bottle. I even get a nice hint of fire-roasted pepper – always nice to have a little vegetal action going on.
Taste: If you like the feeling of having Evander Holyfield in your mouth, using your tongue as a practice bag (like I do), then you will LOVE this wine. This is one of the biggest, baddest Zinfandel’s I’ve had this side of California. Yeah I know that Zin is California’s “golden child” but Maryhill is easily on target to beat them at their own game.
We’re talking huge amounts of jammy-goodness here folks – tons of spiced, dark cherries, plums, extra-ripe blackberries and hints of white-pepper hit your palate with a knockout punch only Zinfandel can deliver.
What impresses me most about this Zin is how long the finish lingers – it’s as long as the Grand Canyon is deep – it keeps coming back with lots of enjoyment on the palette. Tasting it again, I do pick up a very slight sugar-daddy caramel-candy action too.
Mouth-Feel: Very explosive – like a case of dynamite exploding all at once – a very nice break from the typical Cab or Merlot feel.
Food: This really is the quintessential BBQ/grilled foods wine folks. I know that sounds cliché for Zin, but this is the real deal. It easily goes stellar with:
– Homemade Fajita’s and guacamole
– Smoked ribs
– Grilled chicken with homemade bbq sauce (leave that store-bought stuff alone)
– Bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin
– Cedar plank Salmon with red-pepper flake and butter-sauce
– ANYTHING Grilled, BBQ’d or Smoked!
The only caveat I’d have at all on this Zinfandel is it’s price and that will greatly depend on where you get it from. I don’t feel it’s worth the $40 dollar price tag we see on Maryhill’s website, however, their club members get it for a much more reasonable $28 bux or so. I believe it also retails in the stores for under $30. Wine lovers should really seek this wine out – especially you California Zin snobs; you know who you are.
Again, this is my opinion – you should really try this wine for yourself and as always – embrace your own palate.
If you’re interested in any of these wines, shoot an email to our friends at Hellam’s Vineyard Wine Shop: firstname.lastname@example.org