Columbia Valley

Restaurant Wine Mark Up - Washington State Wines at Goodmans

Goodmans

I've had the pleasure of being back in my home town of London for a few days this week and last night went to dinner with some friends to Goodmans Restaurant in the City.  Goodmans is well regarded as a place for great steaks, great wine and a great atmosphere.  I'd been to their Covent Garden venue before and knew what to expect.  The food was very good and the wine list is extensive, but I was shocked to see the mark ups.

I pride myself on being able to pick a great value wine from any restaurant wine list, helped by my trusty Pocket Vintages guide, which I can casually refer to.  It helped me choose a 2010 Ribera del Duero Reserva for only 50GBP.  But I was more interested in the selection of wines from Washington State.  You don't often see Washington wines on London restaurant wine lists so I was pleasantly surprised.  What wasn't so pleasing were the prices.  Take a look at the chart above.

The Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon is a $12 wine at retail - on the menu here for 45GBP.  And the Canoe Ridge Merlot from Chateau Ste. Michelle costs under $15 at retail.  That works out at a seven time mark up!

Do they think that Londoners won't know when they are paying over the odds because Washington Wines availability is a relatively recent phenomenon?  Or maybe London is bouncing back from the great recession and city boys on expense accounts just don't care anymore!

 


Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2012

St mich riesling

Possibly the cheapest bottle of wine I have ever reviewed, costing less than $6 from Safeway!  I've looked around and almost everywhere in Washington State, this local wine can be found for roughly the same price.

But does cheap mean bad?  Not in this case.  I admit, I was sceptical.  But this 2012 dry white wine from the Riesling grape is actually rather good.  It has the classic petrol Riesling taste, offset by over-ripe peaches and a medium to crisp finish.  Certainly not bone dry and citrusy, like a New Zealand young Sauvignon Blanc, but chill this down and serve it on its own or with chicken and you will walk away feeling like you just discovered an absolute bargain.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the largest wineries in Washington State and produces a wide range of wines, almost all of them consistently good for the price.  Adding a couple of bottles to the wine fridge will not hurt the wallet but will bring pleasure on a warm day.  Take heed though, looks can be deceiving - what appears to look and taste like a light dry white wine, is actually 13% ABV.


Trust Cellars Syrah 2009

I came across Trust Cellars on a trip to Woodinville, just outside Seattle in Washington State.  They had a small outlet there, although the wine is made in the famous Walla Walla region in Eastern Washington.

I think many of the wines in Washington State, whilst good, are overpriced compared to European counterparts.  Partly I think this is due to the smaller quantities of wine made and partly because local consumers are willing to pay high prices for the 'local story'.

I picked up a case of the 2009 Syrah a couple of years ago and it's been sitting in the cellar ever since.  I've tried the odd bottle and would say it is 'a point' right about now.

The wine is deep and rich in color and very smooth to drink, either on it's own or with a light meat.  It's not big enough for steak.  And for a Syrah, it's not that spicy. In fact, on a blind taste, you might venture into right bank bordeaux land.  It's plummy and rounded, not tannic, but punchy at over 14% alcohol.

The 2011 version is selling now for around $30 a bottle, which is good value for the quality.  Trust Cellars is a relatively new winery but already making great strides.

Trust


Sineann Abondance 2009

This thick red from Columbia Valley in Washington State really packs a punch at 14.8% alcohol. It's a mix of Cab, Zin, Cab Franc and Merlot and somehow it works.

Give it 30 mins to open up and you'll be pleasantly surprised. One of the interesting features of the bottle is that it has a glass stopper instead of a cork.

I put it in the fridge for a couple of days once opened and then finished it off on night three and it was totally fine.

Sineann Abondance 2009


Vortex Red from Townshend Cellars

Townshend Vortex
This is a non vintage Bordeaux blend from Townshend Cellars in Columbia Valley.

It is 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  At 13.6% alcohol it is 'lighter' than many other Washington reds and in keeping with its Bordeaux aspirations.

You can pick it up locally for around $14 a bottle or slightly more on the Townshend Cellars website.

I quite liked it - nothing amazing but quite reasonable nevertheless.  It's a non vintage bottle, nice label and perfectly suitable for a summer BBQ.

I give it two grapes.

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Three Rivers Winery 2009 Merlot

3 Rivers
This is a smooth and slightly smokey Merlot, with grapes from the fantastic Walla Walla and it packs a punch at 14.8%.

I generally steer clear of Merlot's but this was a decent price (under $15) and from an established winery so I threw caution to the wind and WENT FOR IT.  Glad I did, because it went very well with my grilled chicken.

I refrigerated what was left of the bottle on the first night and it was delicious on day 2 when slightly chilled.

It gets two grapes, which means it's worth a look at.

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