Reviews of the Pacifica Evan’s Collection Washington Meritage 2010 and Westland Peated American Single Malt Whiskey.
By Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon
Washington Jewish Week February 27, 2015
Every year the Royal Wine Corp./ Kedem, owned and managed by the Herzog family, the largest producer, importer and distributer of kosher wines and spirits, organizes a huge wine and food tasting in New York. The Kosher Food and Wine Experience, or KFWE, was held earlier this month at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. This event is a fabulous opportunity to sample the latest wine and spirit releases in Royal’s sizable portfolio, to meet with winemakers or winery/brand representatives and, of course, eat some of the outstanding kosher food available in the Big Apple.
Of all the great, good, solid and simply decent wines on offer, one that was particularly pleasing to revisit was the Pacifica Evan’s Collection Washington Meritage 2010 ($40) made by Philip Jones.
We last reviewed this wine a couple of years ago, when it was first released. This is the same vintage, only now it has had time to mature, develop bottle-age characteristics, and really come together nicely.
Phil and Sheryl Jones, the proprietors of New Zealand’s Spencer Hill Estate where they produce the kosher Goose Bay wines, began their Pacific Northwest wine venture in 2006. They bought 95 acres on Washington State’s Underwood Mountain and established the Pacifica Winery and partnered with Royal Wines to release their Pacifica Evan’s Collection label of wines. The location of the winery, where the Columbia River separates Washington from Oregon just north of Hood River, is perfect for sourcing grapes from both states.
The wine business is a tough nut to crack, however, and the wines have had a bit of rocky start commercially. Exactly why is unclear. Likely the unfamiliarity of the region to kosher consumers is a large part of the problem. Also the 2010 vintage was a bit challenging, or “modest,” to use the term commonly said of a lousy year in Bordeaux. So too, the wines were probably rushed a bit to market. Whatever the reason, the wines did not fly off the shelf.
This was a shame because the wines were really nice, and each offered some authentic Pacific Northwest characteristics. Each also showed clear signs of potential future improvement and development from some short-term cellaring for those with the patience and means to purchase and wait. Alas, only but so many kosher consumers fit this category generally.
Fast forward a couple of years to today. Now instead of just being really nice, the wines are showing wonderfully. In particular, the Washington Meritage 2010 has developed beautifully and really come into its own. This medium bodied blend of Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot was aged in French and American oak and offers aromas of eucalyptus and dark stone fruits, cassis, and a slightly leafy, green undercurrent, followed by flavors of juicy dark fruits, a little toasted coffee bean, and soft, slightly drying tannins. The finish is a mix of sweet fruit and soft oak, with a bit of drying greenness jutting into the picture. This is serious wine from a tough vintage, and drinking beautifully now.
Spirits-wise, we thought we’d stick with the Pacific Northwest and taste another American single malt whiskey from Seattle’s Westland Distillery (founded in 2010). This bottling is a marriage of two separate new-make spirits; one is made from peated malt and the other from a mash of Washington-grown pale malt. Both were fermented with Belgian brewer’s yeast, matured separately in new oak and then together in used Bourbon and Sherry casks. Without further ado:
Westland Peated American Single Malt Whiskey (46 percent abv; $65): Impressive, smoky and remarkably well balanced with full and deep aromas and flavors of creamy vanilla custard, roasted nuts, walnuts, barley, toffee, red fruits, a little coffee, raisins and caramel notes. This is hefty, complex and delicious. L’Chaim!