Category Archives: Walla Walla Valley

College Cellars Muscat Ottonel

Muscat Ottonel Impulse

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2016 Muscat Ottonel

Fellow wine lovers, College Cellars of Walla Walla continues to top the charts at big-time national wine competitions- this time it’s their Muscat Ottonel. You may remember that we featured their Viognier and Rosé last year, but here is a quick refresher on the winery. These wines are made by winemaking students at the Walla Walla Community College, under the instruction of top industry leaders, and advisement from Walla Walla’s biggest names such as Rick Small of Woodward Canyon, and Gary and Chris Figgins of Leonetti/Figgins. The wine program and today’s featured Muscat have been written about a number of times by Andy Perdue, and you can read a recent article by clicking here.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2016 Muscat Ottonel $16.99

The College Cellars Muscat Ottonel was awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which is among the top 3 most prestigious wine competitions in the nation. Right now, just five cases have made it over the mountains from Walla Walla, and we are offering them first come first serve. It’s a single vineyard Muscat from Red Boar Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley, and it’s done in an effervescent and off-dry (medium-sweet) style. The wine features a playful nose of stone fruits, starburst chews, and citrus zest. It tickles your palate with its lightly sparkling nature, and tastes of ripe peaches, candied lemons, and hints of pears.

 Click here to order the College Cellars of Walla Walla Muscat Ottonel

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2016 Muscat Ottonel

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2016 Muscat Ottonel

Region: Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington State Wine

Vineyard(s): Red Boar Vineyard

Grape(s): Muscat Ottonel

Drinkability: Now to 2018

Sweetness: Off-Dry, Medium-Sweet, 6% Residual Sugar

Alcohol: 9% by volume

Drink This if you Like:

Press: Double Gold – San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Food Pairing: Spicy Asian Cuisine, Fresh Salads, Blue Cheeses

Availability: 5 cases



College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Collegiate Impulse

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Fellow wine lovers, there’s a lesser known winery in Walla Walla which has really come into its own in recent years. In the past several months alone, they have had multiple wines winning top honors in various wine competitions around the nation, include with Sunset Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, TexSom/Dallas Morning News, and the Northwest Wine Summit. Not to mention they were written up in the Seattle Times late last year. This winery is making some outstanding wines, and is really unique because a part of the winemaking program at the Walla Walla Community College, and the wines are made by students under the guidance of top wine experts.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier $16.99

The Viticulture and Enology program at Walla Walla Community College boasts an advisory board which reads like the who’s who of Walla Walla- including winemakers from Woodward Canyon, Cayuse, Leonetti, L’Ecole, and Pepper Bridge- which often means that the students are interning at those high caliber wineries while in school. About three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting two of the instructors in charge of the there, Tim Donahue and Sabrina Lueck, and immediately took note of their tremendous knowledge and high level of passion for wine. Suffice it to say, ever since these two took charge of the program, the wines made by College Cellars of Walla Walla have gotten better and better every year, and this year they’ve broken through towards gaining recognition for their efforts. Don’t be fooled by the fact that these are student made wines. Once, when I was in college, I had my hair cut at a beauty school, by a student. The haircut was so bad, that I had to get it cut again elsewhere to fix it. This isn’t like that, and the wines are without a doubt made at a professional level.

I’m of the opinion that it’s not easy to find a great Viognier, as it can be difficult to turn out one which is balanced. The College Cellars Viognier is just that- balanced, elegant, and true to style. It’s one of few Viogniers I’ve seen sourced exclusively from Walla Walla, where I think the climate suites the grape properly. They’ve aged it in a large scale neutral oak tank, which can give the wine a bit of extra body, but no heavy oak character. The final product is a pretty glass of Viognier, with a lightly perfumed nose, showing hints of stonefruit, and tropical aromatics. The palate is medium bodied, dry and fairly crisp, with flavors of apricot, honeysuckle, and a hint of bright pineapple. Surely a great summer wine, and an excellent value

As far as I know, this wine is exclusive to us, as they’re not currently distributing it in the Seattle area. They’re loading up and sending us a shipment of the Viognier just for Impulse, which means we only get one shot at ordering it, and will need everyone’s orders in by 10am tomorrow (Wednesday) please.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Click here to order the College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Region: Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Blue Mountain and Dwelley Vineyards
Grape(s): Viognier
Aging: Aged in a Large Neutral Oak Tank
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Press: Winery written up in the Seattle Times



L’Ecole No. 41 2014 “Luminesce” White

Luminary Impulse:

L’Ecole No. 41 2014 “Luminesce” White Bordeaux, Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

Fellow wine lovers, the sun will be back, and very soon! One of my all time favorite white wines from Washington State is the L’Ecole “Luminesce” which is made in the classic style of a white Bordeaux. I’ve found over the years that this wine is perfect for nearly every occasion, pleases nearly all palates, and goes with most any food. It’s a crisp white wine which is great for the sunny days, yet its complexity and richness will help cut through the greys of the overcast days.

L’Ecole No. 41 2014 “Luminesce” Estate White Blend $20.99

The 2014 Luminesce White is sourced exclusively from L’Ecole’s Estate Seven Hills Vineyard, which is Certified Sustainable and Certified Salmon Safe- also recognized by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the Ten Great Vineyards of the World. The wine is a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon, aged in French oak barrels for 4 months to give it more body and complexity, then finished in stainless to help maintain its freshness. Luminesce undergoes 30% malolactic fermentation, which softens the acidity and gives the wine a creamy mouthfeel. The end result is a beautiful white which appeals to those who like a crisp and bright Sauvignon Blanc, and also to those who enjoy wines with a bit of oak, such as Chardonnay. In restaurants, I’ve consistently recommended this wine when I’ve encountered a group of people who have conflicting ideas about what kind of wine to drink, and it always pleases everyone.

The nose is bright with citrus and pear, followed by hints of tropical fruits, toast, and custard. The palate is very pleasant, starting out with flavors of baked lemons, yellow apples, and dehydrated pineapple slices, escorted by nuanced spices, minerality, and creme brulee, with balancing acidity. The 2014 L’Ecole Luminesce gets 91 points from both Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

L'Ecole 2014 "Luminesce" White

L’Ecole 2014 “Luminesce” White

Click here to order the L’Ecole No. 41 “Luminesce” White Blend

Region: Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Seven Hills Vineyard
Grape(s): 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon
Aging: 4 Months in French Oak Barrels, then Finished in Stainless Steel, 30% Malolactic Fermentation
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: White Bordeaux, Lightly Oaked Chardonnay,
Press: 91 Points from Sean Sullivan of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 91 Points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
Food Pairings: Really Versatile, Goes Great With Almost Anything



TTB Approves The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA

TTB Approves New AVA: The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater

Located in Northeastern Oregon, within the Walla Walla Valley AVA

WALLA WALLA VALLEY, FEB. 6, 2015 – The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) today announced it will establish The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater as the newest American Viticulture Area (AVA) on Monday, Feb. 9. The AVA is situated on an alluvial fan of the Walla Walla River, where the river exits the foothills of the Blue Mountains and enters the Walla Walla Valley. It lies entirely within the state of Oregon and includes part of the town of Milton-Freewater. The area contained within the Rocks District also lies within the Walla Walla Valley AVA, which in turn is entirely within the larger Columbia Valley AVA.

The distinguishing feature of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater is its soil, which consists primarily of dark-colored basalt cobblestones. The cobblestone-rich soil is very well drained, which encourages the vines to root deeply. Due to their coarse texture, the soils are not easily eroded, so cover crops are not required and the cobblestones can be left exposed on the surface where they absorb solar radiation. Heat from the sun-warmed stones promotes growth early in the season and assists ripening during the late summer and early fall.

Nineteen wine producers have vineyards within the boundaries of The Rocks District of MiltonFreewater AVA, which contains approximately 3,770 acres and currently has approximately 250 acres of commercially producing vineyards. The AVA application effort was organized and managed by Steve Robertson of Delmas/SJR Vineyard along with seven other wine growers and producers. Dr. Kevin R. Pogue, a professor of geology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, submitted the petition to the TTB.

Dr. Kevin Pogue, Professor of Geology

Dr. Kevin Pogue, Professor of Geology

Dr. Pogue is pleased the growers shared his idea that the AVA be highly uniform with regard to the physical environment within its boundaries. “The concept behind AVAs is to recognize regions that have truly unique growing conditions that are expressed in the wines. I believe we have remained true to that spirit, creating an AVA with the most uniform terroir in the United States”, he said. “The Rocks District lies on one landform, with very uniform topography and climate, and 96-percent of the soils belong to the Freewater soil series.”

The Walla Walla Valley AVA as a whole spans northeastern Oregon to southeastern Washington and has a long agricultural history. A wide variety of crops have been cultivated in The Rocks District since the late 1800s, and in addition to wine grapes the area still produces commercially-grown apples, cherries, prunes and plums. Wines produced from vineyards planted in The Rocks District in the mid-1990s were quickly recognized by wine critics as among the finest in the country.

The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater Page 2 of 2 “Wines from The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater have been earning accolades for years,” said Duane Wollmuth, Executive Director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. “The Walla Walla Valley has a proud tradition of growing world-class wine grapes, and this designation will help winegrowers better tell the story of the unique terroir on which their grapes are grown.”

“The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater marks Oregon’s 18th AVA, another important step in designating the distinctive and high-quality wine growing regions within our state,” said Ellen Brittan, chairwoman of the Oregon Wine Board. “By gaining AVA status, producers who grow or source fruit from these vineyards can better differentiate the unique characteristics of their wines.”

“Washington State Wine is excited to collaborate with our partners in the Walla Walla Valley AVA and in Oregon to share the story of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater,” said Steve Warner, president of Washington State Wine, which promotes awareness of wineries and growers in Washington State and its cross-border AVAs. “This isn’t about state borders. It’s about the Pacific Northwest and our growing reputation as home to world-class wines. We feel this new AVA designation further recognizes the unparalleled terroir of this area.”

About the Oregon Wine Board:

The Oregon Wine Board (OWB) is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. To learn more, visit

About Washington State Wine:

Washington State Wine represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, WSW provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry through assessments based on grape and wine sales, WSW is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987. To learn more, visit About WWVWA: The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a non-profit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Wine Alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the Valley’s wine industry. More information about the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and its’ mission can be found at

Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine

Eidolon Impulse: Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine

Fellow Wine Lovers, we’ve featured a few wines from the hotly up-and-coming region within Walla Walla known as “The Rocks of Milton-Freewater.” This region is formed on an ancient riverbed which is covered with large basalt cobblestones, and the source for the famed wines of Cayuse and Reynvaan. Wines coming from the rocks are distinctly terroir driven, with lots of earthy characteristic, perhaps too earthy for those who are not so eager to have a wine which tastes like rocks and dirt- though many do love this quality.

Lately I’ve had a few bottles which combine grapes from The Rocks with more fruit driven grapes harvested out of other areas in Walla Walla, culminating in a wine with outstanding balance between earthy and fruity characteristics.

Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine $19.99 (Regularly $26)

Balboa in Walla Walla is a younger winery, founded in 2003 by winemaker Tom Glase. His career started back in 1998 when he began working at L’Ecole No. 41, one of the most respected wineries in Walla Walla, then moved on to Corliss Estate before launching Balboa Winery.

For this bottling of 2012 Red Wine, Tom combines fruit from his Estate Eidolon Vineyard in The Rocks, with Summit View Vineyard. As the name might suggest, Summit View Vineyard is one of the highest planted in Walla Walla, perched just above Seven Hills Vineyard, with panoramic views of the entire value. In contrast to Eidolon Vineyard in The Rocks, Summit View turns out grapes with are driven by purity of fruit, and when combined, you get the best of both worlds.

This is one of the favorite red blends I’ve had all year, and it’s recently gone to close-out pricing, so it’s without a doubt one of the best values in Washington State red wine right now. A blend of 39% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc, aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, it shows delicate balance and captivating depth of flavor. Up front there are beautiful clean fruits of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and juicy purple plums, while hints of licorice, vanilla, and mint play in the background. Digging further down, the earth comes through with suggestions of crushed rocks, sage brush, and dried leaves. Really an outstanding bottle of wine that opens up beautifully over several hours- something I’m personally stocking up on for everyday drinking. Only 430 cases were made.

Click here to order the Balboa Walla Walla Red Wine

Balboa 2012 Red Wine

Balboa 2012 Red Wine

Region: Walla Walla Valley, Washington State
Vineyard: Eidolon Estate Vineyard and Summit View Vineyard
Grapes: 39% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 16 Months in French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.4% by volume
Production: 430 cases



Reynvaan Impulse

Reynvaan Family’s Result of a Crush Red Wine

Fellow wine lovers, in February we offered a bottle called Result of a Crush, a newly assembled wine brought to us by the good people at Reynvaan Family Vineyards. Turns out, that wine quickly became the most popular to have been featured on Impulse thus far, and still holds that status several months later. Almost everyone who ordered Result of a Crush, emailed me later asking for more after having tried it, but the wine was really limited and sold out the day of the offer. For good reason too, because Reynvaan Family Vineyards is without a doubt one the most highly sought after new wineries to debut in recent years. It’s near impossible to get your hands on a bottle of their wines, which typically go for close to $60, so when they introduced their “Result of a Crush” bottling at under $30, it was an instant hit.

Result of a Crush 2011 Red Table Wine $26.99

The main line-up of Reynvaan wines is a full family endeavor, with Matt Reynvaan as the winemaker, and “Result of a Crush” is an offshoot project cooked up by his sisters, Amanda Reynvaan and Angela Reynvaan Garratt. They convinced their brother Matt to make a little extra wine, just for them, incorporating juice from the Reynvaan Family Estate, blended with a little bit of something from his other winemaker friends in Walla Walla. This way the family can offer up a bottle suited for everyday drinking.

This year they’ve stepped it up even further; the original offering of “Result of a Crush” was a non vintage wine, which is to say it was a blend of wines from multiple vintages. For 2011, for the first time, they bottled a single vintage edition of this affordable iteration, making it all the more desirable

The Reynvaan Family Vineyards are located in The Rocks of Milton-Freewater, giving them that distinctive terroir which is at the heart of what make their wines so unique. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Reynvaan Family got their start in Walla Walla by hiring Christophe Baron of Cayuse Vineyards as their winemaking consultant. Christophe gave them pointers on where and how to plant their vines- not too far from Cayuse’s own- and taught them a thing or two about how to make wine. For this reason, Reynvaan is often referred to as “Baby Cayuse”.

As with many Reynvaan wines, the details are closely guarded. What we do know is that this wine is fashioned in the classic Cote-Rotie style, where Syrah is co-fermented with just a hint of Viognier. Also, a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon is blended in to beef up the character and add ageability. In the glass, this wine shows The Rocks, with loads of earth and dried leaf qualities. The nose is full of tobacco and black peppercorn, highly reminiscent of France’s Northern Rhone Valley. The palate is smooth, tasting of blueberries and blackberries, hints of fennel and anise, alluring floral notes, finishing with savory meaty characteristics accompanied by cured olives. If you like a wine that’s delicate and earthy, this is the one.

Click Here to Order The Result of a Crush Red Table Wine

Reynvaan Result of a Crush

Reynvaan Result of a Crush

Region: Walla Walla Valley, Washington State
Vineyard: Reynvaan Family Vineyards blended with a few others in Walla Walla
Grapes: Syrah co-fermented with viognier, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Cayuse, Reynvaan, Cote-Rotie, Northern Rhone
Food Pairings: Roast Beef Sandwich, Meatloaf



Dalliance Impulse: W.T. Vintners

W.T. Vintners 2011 Damavian Syrah & 2012 Dalliance Rhone Red

Fellow wine lovers, we’ve been enjoying a lot of big juicy wines lately, so today we’ll have a change of pace as we explore a lighter, earthier, side to Washington wine. We are visiting back with an Impulse Wine favorite, W.T. Vintners- you might remember our previous offerings of their buzz-worthy Gruner Veltliner and their head turning Syrah. The two families of W.T. (White & Thorsen) have just released their latest set of Rhone style wines, which has already caught the attention of local wine writers, winning the distinction of being labeled Seattle Magazine’s “2014 Winemaker to Watch”.

Not only that, but W.T. had their horn tooted by the Wall Street Journal this year, in June, alongside a handful of other Impulse Wine staples. If you haven’t yet had that opportunity to read that article, you can catch it by clicking here.

W.T. Vintners 2011 “Damavian” Syrah $41.99

Their Damavian is the bolder of the two wines in today’s offering, and it’s 100% Syrah coming from Les Collines (pronounced Lay Co-Lean) Vineyard in Walla Walla. You may have heard my raves before, and it’s worth mentioning once more; I think Les Collines might just be one of the very best Syrah vineyards in the whole state, and it moves up my list every time I try a new wine sourced from here.

In Seattle Magazine’s 2014 edition of the Washington Wine Awards, this Damavian Syrah was selected as the the best Syrah over $20 in the state, after being tasted blind by a panel of 25 well respected local wine professionals. The wine was featured in their August issue where they wrote that W.T.’s Syrah “impressed our judges with its elegant complexity, showing aromas of ‘dried herbs, black olive, pipe tobacco, violets, smoked meat and camphor.’ … this intense wine shows the unique characteristics of the vineyard it was grown in…” I would also add to the list of tasting notes, its vivid nose of fresh ground black pepper and its cache of black cherry fruit leather.

Coming off medium-full on the palate, it’s a great example of how a well made Washington wine can be dense and complex without an overbearing sense of heaviness. White and Thorsen are using 50% whole cluster grapes during fermentation, which really adds to the richness of texture and helps accentuate the inherent earth and terroir qualities.

W.T. made only 56 cases of this rare gem, and they have provided us just 2 of those cases to offer on Impulse. First come first serve.

W.T. Vintners 2012 Damavian Syrah, Les Collines Vineyard, Walla Walla

W.T. Vintners 2012 Damavian Syrah, Les Collines Vineyard

Click here to order the W.T. Damavian Syrah

Region: Walla Walla Valley, Washington State
Vineyard: Les Collines Vineyard, Block 30
Grape: 100% Syrah
Aging: 18 months in Neutral French Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.2% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Hermitage, Cote Rotie, Walla Walla Syrah
Press: Rated “Best Washington Syrah over $20” by Seattle Magazine
Food Pairings: Slow Roasted Pot Roast, Lamb Chops with Rosemary.
Production: 56 cases
Availability: 2 cases

W.T. Vintners 2012 “Dalliance” Mourvedre Blend $31.99

The Dalliance is a Southern Rhone Style blend of 41% Mourvedre, 36% Syrah, and 23% Grenache, coming Stoney Vine Vineyard in the Rocks area of Walla Walla. You may have heard about this area, now being officially dubbed “The Rocks of Milton-Freewater” within the southern portion of Walla Walla, as it’s slated for designation as an official sub-region of the Walla Walla Valley. Aptly named for the fact that the land in this region is covered with rocks, and it could be said that the wines coming from here also taste like rocks, having an especially earthy nature at their core. Wines from this area are in high demand, as this is where the Cayuse Vineyards are located.

The Dalliance red is a lighter style of wine, featuring earthier tertiary qualities above all else. It’s spiced with hints of jalapeno and peppercorns, notes of dry autumn leaves, and the essence of crushed rocks. There is an inkling of bing cherry fruit among these secondary notes as well.

Sean Sullivan, writing for Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, named it as his 2nd favorite red blend from Washington State, in the 2014 “Top 100 Washington Wines” issue. He calls it “a rare Washington wine,” while observing that, “rocks wines are seldom offered at this price; this one won’t last long.”

Just 252 cases were produced.

W.T. Vintners 2012 Dalliance Red Blend, The Rocks of Milton-Freewater, Walla Walla

W.T. Vintners 2012 Dalliance Red Blend, Walla Walla

Click here to order the Dalliance Mourvedre Blend

Region: The Rocks, Walla Walla, Washington State
Vineyard: Stoney Vine Vineyard
Grape: 41% Mourvedre, 36% Syrah, 23% Grenache
Aging: 14 months in Neutral French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Vacqueyras or Gigondas
Press: Rated #2 Washington Red Blend in Seattle Met Magazine’s Best Wines of 2014
Food Pairings: Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Herbs
Production: 252