October 25, 2007

Going to Leavenworth... for the wine

A few weekends ago, Lav and I took our first trip into the funky little town of Leavenworth, "Washington's Bavarian Village." It's a little bit of a peculiar place because, well, there apparently isn't anything historically Bavarian about it. The area of Leavenworth was originally inhabited by the Yakima, Chinook and Wenatchi tribes, and later settled and converted into a logging and rail town. In the 1960's, the town was dying because of the decline in the industry, so it reinvented itself as a Bavarian town, completely changing the appearance of the buildings to mimic a Bavarian mountain village. Go figure.

We happened to be there during the annual Fall Harvest Festival, which featured a pretty impressive parade through the town, complete with floats of all kinds... some of which came from outside of Washington state. Say what you will about this place being "manufactured," they know how to throw a good parade, with scores of happy people enjoying the afternoon and the smell of grilled brats wafting through the mountain air...

The real gem of this trip was our visit to Boudreaux Cellars, run by winemaker Rob Newsom. Tucked away on a small private parcel in the midst of the Wenatchee National Forest in the foothills of the Cascades, Rob is making some amazing wines of phenomenal polish and sophistication.

We had the pleasure of being the only visitors during our time at the winery, and Rob was incredibly warm and inviting as he shared his personal story and the setup of the winery with us (including the killer fermentation tank layout that gives full expression to the term "garagiste"). Rather than read all of the details of our conversation with him over the course of an hour, you should take a visit to the winery and get to know Rob yourself. This former Gore-Tex employee/rock climbing mountain guide turned winemaker has an easy-going, infectious personality... the kind of guy you'd want to hang out with on a lazy Sunday afternoon with some good wine and music.

Speaking of wine, we tasted the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a deep, luscious and intensely alluring elixir of dark red fruit and a faintly floral overtone. Amazingly refined tannins for a decadent mouthfeel, particularly for such a young wine. We also had the 2004 Merlot, similarly velvety in texture, and a masterful expression of cherry and spiced earthiness. Easily some of the best Washington wines I've tried so far.

Boudreaux is exactly the kind of winery you hope to visit--small, personal, and soulful. No big corporate interest to stifle the vision... just a crazy-talented winemaker with some tanks, a small building and garage, and a dog that loves attention... the kind of place where the wine is still bottled, dipped in wax and labeled by hand. Really special stuff.

Call before you show up.

Boudreaux Cellars
4551 Icicle Creek Rd.
Leavenworth, WA 98826

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