“Red wine, that’s what I like, that is what we make,” says Michael Haig of Whitestone winery. The Whitestone vineyard is located on the shores of Lake Roosevelt 60 miles west of Spokane. The vineyard microclimate is perfect for growing Bordeaux style grapes (Cab, Merlot and Cabernet Franc). For a full history of Whitestone and my previous interview with Michael Haig, see the DrinkNectar review.
I’m a huge fan of Bordeaux style blends. I feel that each grape brings individual characteristics to a wine that when properly done create a symphony of flavor and character. Whitestone is known for their Pieces of Red blend (reviewed here) and has recently released a Meritage blend using the best from their vineyard and highest quality French oak barrels. Whitestone holds the distinction of being the only estate grown, produced and bottled winery in Spokane.
Reviewed here are the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the Lake Roosevelt Red non-vintage blend.
2006 Whitestone Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from Lake Roosevelt Shores estate vineyard; 14.6% ABV
- The Swirl: Light plum with ruby edges and about 60% opaque. The wine is beginning to show some browning due to aging.
- The Sniff: A moderate bouquet of thin sour cherry fruit with hints of tobacco and oak
- The Sip: Thin on the front palate with the fruit coming late to the party. There is a cranberry / pomegranate flavor that starts tart then goes to a nice elegant finish. Slightly hot on the finish but has good acidity. Not a full flavor sipping wine but a nicely made wine to pair with food (grilling).
- The Score: The lack of structure and flavor at the $22 price point leads me to score this wine as 3 out of 5. I would hold off on buying this wine just to sip but would certainly recommend it with dinner.
2006 Whitestone Cabernet Franc
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Cabernet Franc; 14.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Light plum with a browning aged color. A bright bluish hue can be detected. The wine is about 60% opaque.
- The Sniff: A mild presentation of under-ripe raspberry and blueberry tickles the nose and contains subtle hints of black tea and a dash of pepper
- The Sip: The mouth feel is similar to the merlot with a thin front palate with fruit that shows up toward the mid and back. A little more multi-dimensional with medium bodied old world earthiness, spice and subtle under-ripe blueberry flavors. There is a good amount of tannin strength that leaves the finish slightly chalky.
- The Score: At $20, I score this wine 3 out of 5. There is nothing off-putting about the wine, it leaves me longing for a little more flavor but would be a nice pairing with beef, and pasta dishes.
NV Whitestone Lake Roosevelt Red
- The Stuff: 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cab Franc from the estate vineyard; 14.9% ABV
- The Swirl: A tawny plum that is about 70% opaque. Color is good out to the edges
- The Sniff: Once you get past the hot perfume smell of the alcohol, there are very nice aromas of red raspberry, cranberry and dark dark chocolate. The smell is bright and fragrant.
- The Sip: This shows why I like blends. Cabernet Sauvignon shows up and joins in the Franc and Merlot party providing a great sweet cherry flavor and a bold middle palate flavor of spice, wood, and tobacco. There is a good tannin structure but doesn’t feel chalky. The only off piece of the wine is the strong alcohol heat when you swallow.
- The Score: At $17 retail this is a very good value red blend and I score it a 3+ out of 5. It shows good drinkability now with an additional 3-5 years in the cellar.
Whitestone Winery is open from Noon – 6pm Thursday – Saturday at 111 S. Cedar in downtown Spokane. They have live music most weekends and are participants of the First Friday festivities. Their wine club gives members 10% off of single bottle purchases, 15% off of case pricing and merchandise and complimentary tastings for up to four people.
*Wine was provided as industry sample with the intention to review