Buying Wine

Efeste Fall Release Party

Efeste, pronounced like the letters “F-S-T” strung together, was named after the last names of founders Helen & Dan Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin & Angela Taylor. Efeste is located in the Warehouse District of Woodinville, Washington. Brennon Leighton, who recently left Efeste to work on a Chardonnay project with Charles Smith, was the winemaker up through and including the 2011 vintage.

My wife Lisa is a member of the wine club, so this past Sunday we went out to the winery for semi-annual wine club party and pickup. Efeste may be located in the Warehouse District but their winery is big, warm and welcoming. The winery has a working kitchen complete with a wood fired pizza oven. Throughout the release they served a variety of  delicious thin crust, artisan pizzas.

Tasting and evaluating wine at a release party is always challenging – you typically only get a small pour and have just a few minutes to formulate an opinion. It’s also hard to take notes while chatting with friends and visiting with winery representatives. As always, we were up to the challenge.

On to the wines:

2011 Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc – The fruit is sourced from Boushey Vineyard and wine sees a touch of new oak in the aging process. Crisp yet lush. Citrus and vanilla. Zingy acidity. Perfectly paired with a cheese pizza topped with carmelized onions. $20. 91 points.

2011 Adrienne Chardonnay – The fruit is sourced from French Creek Vineyard which is rapidly becoming my favorite vineyard for WA Chardonnay (more on that later). Lemon, guava and mango and mineral. Refreshing and clean with a perfect acidity rarely seen in a domestic Chardonnay. $35. 92 points.

2010 Eleni Syrah – Red Willow Vineyard fruit. Washington’s oldest Syrah Vineyard. Blood, iodine, cherries and mineral. The most approachable of the three Syrahs today. $45. 90 points.

2010 Ceidleigh Syrah – The fruit here is sourced from several Red Mountain Vineyards including Ciel du
Cheval, Klipsun and Ranch at the End of the Road. Savory notes of blueberries, game and bacon fat. Stunning wine that needs time in the cellar. $39. 93 points.

2010 Jolie Bouche Syrah – Boushey Vineyard fruit. Cherries, iron, flowers, bacon fat, meat and minerals. This also needs many years in the cellar. $39. 92 points.

Final thoughts:

  • Washington as a whole gets little acclaim for Chardonnay. I have a feeling Efeste is out to change that.
  • French Creek Vineyard makes some great wines, but I’m working on warming up to Red Willow Vineyard.
  • Note to self: the Syrahs all need many years of bottle age.
  • If forced to pick a wine of the day I would give a slight edge to the Ceidleigh Syrah.

Please bear in mind that these are just initial impressions, and I do hope to sit down over a long evening and give each of these bottles the attention they deserve.

There’s a lot to like at Efeste. Buy a bottle of any of these wines and let me know what you think.

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