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Wine Rasa

Last year, Rand Sealey in his online publication, gave the 2007 Principia Reserve Syrah a perfect score.

He recently reviewed our wines. Though no perfect scores this year, we did come close with the 2008 Creative Impulse. As he says “it is a potential 20-point wine. 19.5+/20 points.”

We’ll take it.

If you aren’t familiar with Rand’s reviews, I urge you to check them out. It’s a great way to get familiar with Washington wines. His is a paid subscription but it’s worth it.

Here are his reviews of our wines:

2008 Creative Impulse

    This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon and 31% Merlot from a premier vineyard displays a deep ruby color and an intense nose of blackberry, cherry and cassis, with scents of wildflowers, attar of rose and lavender. The flavors are deep and penetrating, with admixtures of dark chocolate, licorice, silty minerals and coffee grounds. On the back, sensations of crème brulee, roasted berries, cedar and oak vanillin (60% new French) emerge, followed by a deep, long and complex finish, sprinkled with spices (coriander, clove, nutmeg). The ripe tannins are unobtrusive, but indicate ageworthiness. So complete and well balanced, it is a potential 20-point wine. 19.5+/20 points.

2008 Principia Reserve Syrah

    As a new vintage, this wine shows a different mathematical formula on the label than the previous one. It exhibits a deep purplish color and a seductive nose of roasted wild berries, rose petals, smoldering incense, sandalwood, violets and oriental perfumes. The dark fruits are thickly saturated, showing sensations of Swiss chocolate, black licorice, French roast, toasted nuts, and orange peel. The concentration continues on the back, with a gush of macerated huckleberries, accented by a touch of crème brulee. With just the right touch of oak (25% new) and balanced alcohol (14.2%) the finish is long and focused, showing ripe, sweet tannins. 19.5/20 points.

2008 QED

    This blend of 83% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre and 2% Viognier offers a deep purplish color and sultry, smoky aromas of raspberries, black currants, garrigue (French lavender), rosebuds and whiffs of violets. Thick and chewy on the palate, it shows a full array of dark roasted fruits, licorice, dark chocolate, French roast, and scorched earth. On the back, notes of kirsch liqueur, bitter orange peel, dried cherries and mocha emerge, followed by ripe chewy tannins, all beautifully integrated. 19+/20 points

2009 Vox Populi Mourvedre

    This 100% Mourvedre shows a deep purplish color and a rich, spicy blackberry and cherry nose, with scents of wildflowers and lavender. On the palate, it is rich and chewy, like macerated berries mixed with licorice and chocolate. The back picks up a touch of creamy mocha along with squeezed berries and a twist of orange peel, followed by a long ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.

If you’d like to purchase some, please go to to place your order.

56 Degrees, one of the best wine shops in the country, hosted our first wine dinner at The Pluckemin Inn last year. It was such a success that 56 Degrees wanted to do it again this year.

The dinner is this Wednesday, July 27th 7pm at The Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, NJ.

For those able to attend, please call 908-953-0900 or send email to It was sold out last year and I expect it will be sold out again this year.

The menu:

Assorted Passed Canape with NV Laurent Dauphin Champagne Brut Tradition

1st course - Fluke Tartare, Citrus-Trinidad Chile Nage, Pickled Mustard Seed, Sprouts with 2010 Rasa Vineyards Riesling “The Lyricist”

2nd course - Lobster, Chicken, Local Polenta, Organic Mushrooms, Red Wine Jus with 2008 Rasa Vineyards Syrah “QED” and 2009 Rasa Vineyards Mourvedre “Vox Populi”

3rd course - Niman Ranch Beef, Cheeks & Dry Aged, Taggiasca Olives, Pomme Puree, Tomato Confit with 2008 Rasa Vineyards “Creative Impluse” Bordeaux Blend DeBrul Vineyard and 2008 Rasa Vineyards Syrah Reserve “Principia”

4th course - Artisanal Cheese Plate

PRICE - $135 per person plus taxes and gratuity

We are proud to introduce our first two whites under the PB Wines label. Both wines sell for under $20 and offer tremendous value. For our mailing list, we are also offering a case discount of 15%.

To order, please go to

2010 PB Wines Heritage Pinot Gris Kilian Vineyard ($18)

Speaking with Carl Kilian, owner of Kilian Vineyard, I found that he has a half acre block of Pinot Gris:

    Who’s getting that fruit?
    Nobody this year. I’m going to pull out the vines.
    Carl, they look pretty old.
    They’re about 20 years old.
    You can’t just rip them up. In Washington, that’s old vines. Keep them around and we’ll do something with them in 2011.

After Billo came by to verify that the vines were healthy, Carl made an offer we could not refuse:

    Why don’t you take the fruit this harvest? Pay me only if you can make a nice wine.

Now that’s a good man.

The wine is made in a dry Vendanges Tardives style that brings to mind some beautiful Alsatian wines but is quintessentially Washington. Carl Kilian will be getting his check.

With only 102 cases made, this will go quick.

For Winemaker notes and technical info, please visit

To order, please visit

2010 PB Wines Riesling ($16)

Our 2010 Rieslings were truly a labor of love. With 5 separate passes in 3 vineyards and a strict selection, we were able to make a compelling Auslese-style wine called The Lyricist. We had some juice remaining that didn’t make it into the The Lyricist simply because it changed the acid profile we were targeting.

The wine on its own makes a wonderful, high-acid off-dry Riesling that is very food friendly. So we decided to bottle it separately under the PB Wines label.

The fruit comes from three vineyards with four different harvest dates. The 21.4% botrytis berries helps give the wine a rich palate with wonderful nuances. The high acidity keeps the finish lingering on the palate.

With only 40 cases made, we expect to sell out quickly.

For Winemaker notes and technical info, please visit

To order, please visit

We just sent out a mailer offering the following 2 wines on pre-release: the 2009 Vox Populi Mourvedre and 2010 The Lyricist Riesling .

You must be on our mailing list to order. If you’re interested, please visit to sign up. Here is the text of the mailer:

Last year, we listened to the voice of the people and bottled a 100% Mourvedre wine we called Vox Populi. The 2008 Vox was subsequently awarded 93pts from Wine Spectator and became our first sold-out wine. Not only did the people speak, they knew what they were talking about.

The people have spoken again - we’ve just bottled the 2009 Vox Populi. This 100% Mourvedre from two vineyards promises to be even more compelling than the 2008. With only 89 cases produced, we expect to sell out quickly.

We were so happy with our first Riesling, The Composer 2009, we had decided to increase our portfolio to include two more Rieslings.

But Mother Nature had other plans.

2010 proved to be a challenging vintage for Riesling. The hallmark of Riesling from this vintage is its searing acids. It was evident early on that the best wines would need to temper this acidity.

The worst thing from a branding perspective is to not offer a wine consistently. After introducing The Composer, we naturally expected to have a 2010 version. But in the end, we had to make the best wine possible. We had to put aside our branding concerns and listen - Mother Nature had something to say.

After a strict selection in the vineyards (including 3 picks at Sagemoor and 2 picks at Kilian) and strict selection in the blending process, we reduced our expected production of 400 cases to 217 cases. And in turn, created one fantastic wine.

We are proud to introduce our new Riesling - The Lyricist 2010. A blend of Sagemoor and Kilian vineyards with 44% botrytis fruit, The Lyricist is a compelling wine on par with some of the best Auslese-style wines Germany and Austria have to offer.

When Mother Nature speaks, it pays to listen.

For more info and Winemaker notes, please visit .

To order, please visit

We just sent out a mailer offering the following 3 wines on pre-release: the 2008 QED, 2008 Principia Reserve Syrah, and the 2008 Creative Impulse.

You must be on our mailing list to order. If you’re interested, please visit to sign up. Here is the text of the mailer:

By the harvest of 2008, our 2007 QED and Principia had been in barrel for 12 months. We knew the quality was high but we also knew we had to push ourselves to make better wines. “Defy the narrative” became our mantra.

There is a common narrative where someone excels in his rookie year only to falter as a sophomore, leaving people to wonder if the rookie year was an aberration. If lucky, the person manages to eke out a respectable, though less than spectacular, career. The narrative is so common in sports that sportswriters can basically keep the same story year-in and year-out, substituting only the latest names.

We knew our 2008s had to be stellar. As a new high-end winery trying to establish itself in the worst economy in the last twenty years, we simply cannot afford to be a casualty of this prescribed narrative.

We are proud to offer on pre-release the 2008 QED, 2008 Principia Reserve Syrah, and the 2008 Creative Impulse.

The 2008 QED was bottled last year and has already received some great reviews (including the #12 spot on Seattle Met 100 Best WA Wines 2010).

Tasting out of barrel, Stephen Tanzer commented that the 2008 Principia Reserve Syrah may surpass the 2007 Principia in quality. Agreed. With only 120 cases produced, there isn’t much to go around.

The 2008 Creative Impulse DuBrul Vineyard is our first Bordeaux blend and it just may be our best wine to date. After tasting a barrel sample, Jay Miller has given it a rating of 93-96 pts. There will be only 150 cases.

For Winemaker notes, technical info, and reviews, please visit .

To order, please visit

Defy the narrative. Our mantra served us well.

56 Degrees, one of my favorite wine shops, is the first in NJ to carry our PB Wines. This weekend they will be pouring our PB Wines in store:

The 2010 harvest was the longest we’ve been a part of. The first fruit arrived on September 27 and the last fruit arrived on November 10. Overall the quality is quite high. There were some issues (botrytis on red grapes, high acids) to contend with but with proper selection, we did well.

Harvest has always been a happy and exciting occasion: picking fruit at optimal ripeness, worrying about the weather, logistics of hauling fruit from various vineyards, monitoring fermentations… ahhh, the hustle and bustle of it all.

This year, though, it was marred with sadness for me. On October 13 I lost a close friend to cancer. I was in Walla Walla at the time and couldn’t make it back to NJ for the funeral services.

When I got back in November, I didn’t go pay my respects right away like I had intended. There was always some excuse not to go but, truth be told, I had mourned in WA and I just wasn’t ready to go to his gravesite.

I decided to go on Dec 7 – his birthday. My friend is buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (yes, of the Washington Irving fame). Since I didn’t know where my friend was buried, I asked at the front desk. With map in hand and specific instructions on how to find him, I proceeded to search for him for the next two hours – tombstone by tombstone.

Dec 7, 1941 as everyone in the US should know, was the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As I walked the cemetery, searching for my friend, I saw many WWII veterans interred there. Almost as if on auto-pilot, I found myself murmuring thank yous as I passed by. (If you want a visceral connection to history, visit an old graveyard.)

After no sign of his headstone anywhere, I went back to the front office. As soon as I walked in, the nice lady who gave me the map and the specific directions saw me. Before I could say anything, “I’m so sorry” came right out of her mouth. “I sent you to the wrong place.” No problem, mistakes happen. I was then escorted to the correct location.

And I found my friend, buried on a knoll beneath a beautiful tree overlooking the expanse of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

I stood there communing with my friend, saying things most men can’t seem to say to each other unless in circumstances such as these.

As I walked away, vowing to see each other again, I realized that this was the end of my 2010 harvest. It was the last thing left to do. It was the most important of things.

The 2010 Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend is almost here. On December 3-5, over 50 wineries will participate and pour barrel samples as well as offer other festivities.

Come barrel taste our 2009 QED, 2008 Principia Reserve Syrah, 2008 Creative Impulse DuBrul Vineyard Bordeaux blend, and help decide our next Vox Populi - let your voice be heard!

Our bottled wines will also be available for tasting and purchase.

If you are planning on visiting the valley, please stop by. We’d love to see you. We’ll be open Friday 12/3 – Sunday 12/5, 11am – 5pm.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Autumn Release Weekend is upon us. Many wineries in Walla Walla will be releasing their new wines this weekend. It should be a lot of fun.

This year, we’ll be releasing our 2008 PB Wines Yakima Valley Syrah and 2008 PB Wines Red Mountain Kiona Vineyards Syrah/Cab.

We will also be pouring our Rasa Vineyards wines – 2009 The Composer Riesling, 2008 Vox Populi Mourvedre, 2007 QED, and 2007 Principia Reserve Syrah.

If you are planning on visiting the valley, please stop by. We’d love to see you. We’ll be open Friday 11/5 – Sunday 11/7, 11am – 5pm. We are located at 4122 Powerline Road in Walla Walla.

We are proud to introduce the 2008 PB Wines Yakima Valley Syrah and 2008 PB Wines Red Mountain Kiona Vineyards Syrah/Cab.

Both wines sell for $29 each. To order, please go to

Typically, wineries create secondary brands (called second labels) with fruit that they’ve declassified. If the fruit isn’t good enough for the primary brand, they put it into a secondary brand and sell it for a lower price. It’s a successful model that many wineries use.

We don’t do that. Any fruit that Rasa Vineyards declassifies, we sell off as bulk wine to other wineries. PB Wines is strictly fruit that didn’t make it into the final blends for Rasa Vineyards due to stylistic reasons. These wines are treated in the same uncompromising manner as Rasa wines. PB Wines is a way for us to offer our customers great wines for under $30.

Here are Winemaker’s notes and technical info on the wines:

2008 PB Wines Yakima Valley Syrah
    The Yakima Valley Syrah is composed of 86% Minick Vineyard, 9% Les Collines Vineyard, and 5% Portteus Vineyard. The wine went through a 50% native fermention and was aged for 21 months in 25% new French oak and 75% neutral French oak.
    The wine displays notes of black pepper, licorice, smoked meat, earth, black olive, and assorted black fruits on the palate. Nuances of blackberry, earth, vanilla and dark chocolate linger delicately on the long, persistent finish. The vibrant acidity and silky tannins provide a beautiful backdrop for the palate complexity. Properly cellared, this wine will evolve gracefully for 15+ years. 224 cases produced.
2008 PB Wines Red Mountain Kiona Vineyards Syrah/Cab
    The 2008 Kiona Vineyards Syrah/Cab comprises of 67% Syrah and 33% Cab. The wine was 60% fermented with native yeasts and aged for 21 months in 33% new French oak and 67% neutral French oak.
    Black currant, black cherry, truffle, and earth notes dominate the palate. In the background there are notes of espresso, mint, and dark chocolate. The silky tannins exhibit a finesse that is rarely encountered in wines from Red Mountain. The intense finish lingers for well over a minute. Properly cellared, this wine will evolve gracefully for 15-20 years. 187 cases produced.
    2008 PB Wines Red Mountain Kiona Vineyards Syrah/Cab                           2008 PB Wines Yakima Valley Syrah     

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