Zerba: Always a favorite. Spoke with Doug (the winemaker there), who taught me that the pH of wines from The Rocks is usually about 3.8 - 4.0, which is much higher than most other wines.
GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) is very nice, but acidic so it needs hearty food (not a problem ;).
The '06 Syrah was very good, and the Reserve Syrah (100% W.Walla fruit) was awesome.
'06 Merlot (with 25% CS and CF) was very very good.
Amavi: First time there. The name is an amalgam of love, life, wine (amor, vita, vinum), and in Latin it also means "I have loved." Les Collines Syrah was soft and nice. The Syrah/Cab blend finished tough. The '08 Syrah had nice nose of violets, pepper, dark fruits but was typical on the palate.
Basel: This place (in the famed log cabin mansion, south of W.Walla) has really upped its game. Ginger and Julia took us through the wines, and wow!
08 Claret: Nice perfumed nose which carries through to the taste; very thick; I'm going to offer this one.
'07 Cab/Merlot (Columbia Valley): Wonderful. Not just fruit (and caramel and sawdust)--it's got perfume in it, like dancing close and you can smell your date's neck. Simply wonderful! I'll offer this, too.
08 Cab Franc is very good. '07 Merriment was shut down. 07 Merlot; not so great. 08 Malbec: Wonderful! Awesome aromatics and jammy on the tongue.
07 Carmenere: Perfect Merlot/Cab franc blend. Cedar, leather, bell pepper. Great fruit.
Va Piano: Hmm. Wanted to try it, after our server at a great restaurant on our last trip told us he was Asst Winemaker there. Some of the wines were rubbery and too reductive. Maybe they will be great with some age; hard to tell.
Rulo: Good whites; their Syrahs age well (I just drank their '03 and it was divine). But their '07 Syrah was reductive/sulfery; maybe with age it will develop perfectly. '07Horse Heaven Hills Cab wasn't great.
Isenhower: Was there, and saw it, so we stopped. Wish we hadn't.
Woodward Canyon: Pretty and new tasting building. But their wines still just aren't for me. They're too bricky and sharp, and the fruit is hidden, and they're way overpriced. I always wonder: Who are their customers?
L'ecole No. 41: Is always good, but seemed even better this trip. The whites are outstanding. '07 Merlot is a little thin. '07 Cab has a great cab nose and needs age but is a keeper. Apogee and Perigee are gonna be great, but they need a long sleep.
Saviah: I'm ashamed it took me so long to discover Rich Funk and Saviah. He is very congenial and uber-talented, bringing his biochemistry background to winemaking. I love the style of wine. "Star--white blend--is a fun little wine. Jack Riesling is very good. The Jack red blend is a very good wine and a great value.
08 Une Vallee will be great; needs aging. '06 Reserve Syrah is fantastic. We went back for winemaker's dinner that night and it was great!
Gramercy: A whole series of wonderful wines. Greg Harrington is a talented maker. Buy anything he makes and it will be good. Spectator put both the Gramercy Cab and the Novelty Hill Cab on the Top 100 list; but side by side the Gramercy wins, hands down.
Seven Hills: Big surprise! I always thought of them as good-to-pretty-good, but I was blown away by the quality now. 08 Carmenere very good but will age only 2 years max.
08 Cab (7 hills vinyd): very silky; great nose; a real winner.
07 Pet. verdot: delicious!
08 Malbec: great wine.
I will offer some of these, for sure.
Five Star: I liked it a lot in the past, but didn't wow me as much now. I wonder if they're trying to make too many kinds of wine; they used to make only three, I think? Having said that, the '05 Stellar is a special wine (CS CF Merl Malb). And the '08 Supernova (CF Pet verdot) is great but needs some aging.
Buty: Another greatly talented maker. Rose and whites are great. 08 Columbia Rediva of the Stones is spendy but a great and special wine with strong earth and mushroom notes. '06 Peter Candless Syrah had the best nose of all the wines in our trip.
Syzygy: Sadly, this one didn't strike us as good as we recalled from past trips.
K Vintners: Charles is definitely still on his 'A' game. '09 Milbrandt Syrah is wonderful and a good buy as great Syrahs go; I'll offer it. He has sold the Magnificent House label to Precept, and at first he stayed on as winemaker, but then they had a falling out, so expect M.House Wine to change in material ways (on the palate), in the future.
Walla Walla Vintners: Also disappointed us a little bit, compared to a very strong favorable earlier impression. It's OK, just not so close to the top as previously.
Forgeron: Sorry we stopped. The wines seemed lifeless, bland.