(Photo of Benson Vineyards Estate Winery, Lake Chelan)
We first visited Lake Chelan and its wineries in 2007. Was good to go back.
Stayed at Campbell's Resort: Lovely room overlooking the lake.
This time, we visited:
1. Benson: All estate wines. One of the most gorgeous views that a mere mortal could ever hope to see: Lake and mountains and vineyards, and a wonderful winery campus, all rolled into a giant breathless piece of eye candy for the lucky visitor. They got 60" of snow at the winery. Summer highs range from 85F to 105F. Winters get down to near zero, but the lake keeps it warmer than in Similkameen, so Chelan gets less dieback.'09 Viognier ($19): Nope. Too much sharp and too little fruit.
'09 Curiosity (Chard/Viog, $18.50): funky nose.
'09 Rose ($19.50): Syrah/Merlot, which you don't see every day: Nice, but a little too sweet.
'08 Pinot noir ($23): Light brownish-red color, which is odd. Bouquet too stinky; wine too sharp and thin.
'08 Sangio ($27): No nose. Thin.
'07 Rhythm ($26): Yes! Very good, though not the quality of the best from Walla Walla. Syrah, Merlot, Cab Franc.
'07 Syrah ($26.50): Super-light nose; smoky palate. Strange.
'08 Merlot ($26): Light nose (where can you find AROMATICS around here?); chocolate and red fruit; OK but just not the match of the Tri Cities/W.Walla wines
'08 Cab Franc ($33): Mint and earth. Just OK. Too thin. Note to winemaker: How about doing something to add some body? Bananas? Glycerine? Don't laugh.
'09 Meritage ($36.50; Cab S, Merlot, Cab F): Not really, sorry.
Wonderful place and great server; some of the wines have a ways to go.
2. Vin du Lac: We tasted on the outdoor patio and then lunched at their bistro, on the same patio overlooking the lake, sipping glasses of our fave wines from the tasting; wonderful! The wines are all well-made; the winemaker is fastidious about keeping O2 off the wines, so the whites can age longer if you like.
'09 Pinot gris: Minerally and sharp if you like that style.
'09 Les Amis: Sold out (Riesling and Viog, I think?)
'10 Viognier: Honey nose; fruity and crisp; nice.
'07 Sauv Blanc Estate (LEHM) 1.3%RS; Gold at NW Wine Summit; citrus nose; very yummy; I'll recommend this one for sure. $16 from me.
'07 Savvy Blanc (not pouring, but we found this on sale at the local Safeway, and bought it for our dinner): Very nice. Great companion to a fine light meal. But, to use an orchestra analogy, the wine won't be the violin--more like the viola (subtle; in the background). I can sell this one for less than $10.
'07 Riesling Estate: Nice
'09 Rose (Sangio and Cab Franc): 26 hrs on skin; nice, but not like Barnard Griffin's Rose of Sangio . . .
NV Pinot noir ('07/'08): OK, but a bit thin.
'06 Barrel Select Cab Sauv, Columbia Valley: Odd citrus nose.
'09 Cuvee Rouge: Merlot-Cab Franc-Syrah-Cab Sauv: Thin.
'06 Barrel Select Merlot ($35 wine club): Thinner than I like.
'07 Barrel Select Syrah: WS90 points: Nice bouquet. Good. Not as much body as in earlier years. A Syrah for lovers of the delicate style.
'07 Barrel Select Cab Franc: Nice on the palate, though the bouquet is limited for a Cab Franc.