This Tri-City winery offers special GSM vertical tastings

That means tasting the same wine — same winery, wine varietal and vineyard designation — from multiple years.

Hank Sauer, of Kennewick, donated a complete vertical of cabernet sauvignon by Leonetti Cellar to the 2017 Auction of Washington Wines, a lot that raised $32,500. (Richard Duval Images)

Hank Sauer, of Kennewick, donated a complete vertical of cabernet sauvignon by Leonetti Cellar to the 2017 Auction of Washington Wines, a lot that raised $32,500. (Richard Duval Images)

One of the most fun things a wine lover can do is a vertical tasting. That means tasting the same wine — same winery, wine varietal and vineyard designation — from multiple years.

It’s fascinating to experience the differences in vintages, including how a wine ages and how weather can play a factor in a wine’s development.

There are several ways to build a vertical. You could collect the wine each year, buying it as it’s released and storing the bottles until you have at least three vintages represented. Another option is to purchase the bottles from a winery that has multiple vintages available.

Years ago, our friend and wine columnist Ken Robertson pulled out two decades of historic Woodward Canyon Old Vines cabernet sauvignon. It was remarkable to sense how they aged, confirming our suspicion that these were perhaps the cellar-worthy wines produced in the Pacific Northwest.

Another friend of ours, Hank Sauer, a retired educator in Kennewick, recently donated his complete 37-year vertical of cabernet sauvignon by Leonetti Cellar to the Auction of Washington Wines, raising $32,500 to create an endowed scholarship for the Washington State University viticulture and enology program.

Typically, vertical tastings are conducted with red wines because they age better. However, we have the good fortune to taste through libraries of riesling, which is equally compelling for wine nerds.

If you have a vertical of wine, you can turn it into a party. Have each of your guests bring a dish or appetizer. You want to have at least two wine glasses per guest, so they can sample some of the wines side by side.

Palencia Winery, which operates tasting rooms in Kennewick and West Richland, has compiled a three-year vertical of its Casa Amarilla, a red blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, commonly referred to as a “GSM,” referencing the initials of the three grapes involved.

These blends are common in the central Rhone Valley in southern France. They are some of the most consistently delicious wines to come out of Washington state’s Rhone exploration that began in 1986 when the first syrah vines were planted in the Yakima Valley at Red Willow Vineyard.

In most cases, a GSM will combine the fruitiness of grenache with the spiciness of syrah backed by the sturdiness of Mourvèdre. It’s a combination that’s developed into one of the hallmark blends of not only Washington but also Idaho.

Palencia, who was born in Mexico and grew up in Prosser, made his first GSM blend while he was in high school, before attending the Walla Walla Community College winemaking program in 2003. Within a decade, and while making more than a million cases of wine each year for others, he launched his own project, Palencia Wine Co., near the Walla Walla Airport.

In 2018, he moved his entry-level Vino la Monarcha label to Kennewick’s Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village. And recently, Palencia took over a former distillery building at the end of Keene Road in West Richland, calling it Bodega Palencia.

Despite the transition, Palencia hasn’t lost his focus. Last spring, Wine Press Northwest magazine named Palencia Winery as its 2019 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year. And the Palencia 2016 Casa Amarilla GSM blend was recently selected as The Seattle Times’ wine of the year. It is at the heart of a specially packaged three-year vertical of GSM for a holiday price of $99.

Whether you pick the convenience of a pre-packaged vertical or start the hunt to create your own consecutive collection, building and tasting a vertical is a delicious adventure in wine.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

The mask of an employee who returned to the office during the normalization period after corona virus quarantine, stands in front of the keyboard. Top view. Turkey.
What seniors can expect as new normal in a post-vaccine world

Here’s a preview of post-vaccine life for older Americans, from medical care to grocery shopping.

The trick to 1892 East’s crispy French toast is a combination of cornflakes and buttery palmiers, which add great crunch and rich flavor. (Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Is your bread stale? Don’t throw it away; make this treat

Cornflake French toast might seem a bit of a gimmick, but the added crunch is a marvel.

The Washington State Wine Commission is using August, known for decades as Washington Wine Month, to promote the Drink For WA campaign. The commission estimates it will generate 12 million impressions through advertising and social media channels. (Photo courtesy Washington State Wine Commission)
Washington wine commission rolls out Drink for WA campaign

Share an image of your special occasion along with tags of #DrinkForWA and #EatForWA.

It only takes a small amount of cash to build a homemade swamp cooler to make your home comfortable this summer. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Can a do-it-yourself swamp cooler beat the August heat?

Instead of spending $400 for an air conditioner, purchase $25 of simple parts and assemble one yourself.

Fried green tomatoes stand in fro fresh red tomatoes in this BLT sandwich. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Make a fried green tomato BLT when you can’t wait for ripe

Firmer than red tomatoes, with a zingy, slightly sour taste, unripe tomatoes hold their shape.

Talking to stuffed animals and other lessons of COVID-19

Teddy bears are a source of comfort and can be a sounding board for something we are trying to express.

AI-enhanced EKGS may speed heart failure diagnosis, treatment

The devices aid in screening for cardiac dysfunction in people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Thai Chicken Kabobs with Noodles. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
This super-easy Thai-inspired dish has a slightly spicy edge

Peanut sauce flavors these Thai chicken kabobs with noodles.

Frozen blueberries team up with banana and yogurt to make a refreshing summer smoothie. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Make the most of your fresh-picked blueberries this summer

They can play a starring role in so many recipes, and we’re not just talking dessert- and breakfast-type dishes.

Most Read