Here are my notes from a recent tasting at the winery and some review bottles:
2016 Chica!: Morris started this series last year with a Riesling. This year it’s 100 percent Pinot Gris. I loved this wine that represents everything a great Washington Pinot Gris can be. Fragrant peach and nectarine fruit on the nose and flavors of pink grapefruit followed by sweet honeydew and a splash of lemon. Bright acidity and stony minerality sets this wine apart from that often flabby and sweet California Pinot Gris.
2016 Pinkie a-go-go: This is a patio pleasing, dry blend of 93 percent Syrah, 4 percent Pinot Gris and 3 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Nice aromas and flavors of ripe watermelon with hints of raspberry, perfect for casual get-togethers.
2014 Grill Thrill: A fruit-forward blend of Wahluke Slope Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot that carries a lot heft. Good mouth feel and lasting ripe berry flavors that will hold up well to zesty barbecue.
2015 Napeequa Vintners Chardonnay: Here’s a mouth-filling Chardonnay offering a full array of soft fruit flavors, nuttiness, butter, lemon and creme brulee. Morris relied on 100 percent Chardonnay grapes from Olsen Vineyard near Red Mountain. Finished in French oak.
2014 Napeequa Vintners SLR: The SLR stands for Sexy Little Red, but there’s nothing little about this robust blend of 80 percent Syrah, 17 percent Grenache ad 3 percent Petite Sirah. A lovely wine in the Rhone Valley style that would pair perfectly with pork tenderloin or roasted game birds, yet hefty enough for venison or beef.
2015 Napeequa Vintners Trailhead: This just released vintage is a monster that you will want to keep for a special occasion roast or steak. Better yet, get two, one for that next celebration and one to put in the cellar. This wine will only get better for several years to come. A blend of Mourvedre, Syrah and Petite Sirah, this voluptuous wine fills the mouth with flavors of ripe black berries and plums with notes of vanilla, Middle Eastern spices, cigar box and leather.
— Rick Steigmeyer
MANSON — Napeequa Vintners has added its own wry twist to its reinvented winery, now based in Manson.
With a new production facility and tasting room on Quetilquasoon Road — the road to Wapato Point — as well as a new tasting room in Leavenworth, owner/winemaker David Morris is taking the next step in growing the winery he started in 2004.
Morris moved the winery from Plain to Manson last fall to take advantage of growing wine tourism around the lake and to be closer to winemakers who have supported and helped him for many years. He’s also started using more Lake Chelan-area grown grapes in his wines.
“It’s great to be part of the Lake Chelan camaraderie,” Morris told me on recent visit to the winery. “This is a place where wineries support each other and truly feel all boats are going to rise on the incoming tide.”
You can now get a taste of Napeequa’s wines in Leavenworth, as well. Napeequa is one of six wineries that opened new tasting rooms in The Wine Cellar, the newly remodeled basement of the Tumwater Building, 217 9th St.
The shift has a lot to do with Morris’s retirement from his 30-year career as a chiropractor in Lake Stevens. Napeequa is now his full time job. He expects production to double from its current 1,500 cases in the next few years.
With Napeequa’s new line of Davey Outrageous wines, Morris offers a sense of humor and fun with some great tasting, affordable wines made for everyday sipping. The three wines — white, pink and red — sport comic labels that add to patio or casual dining fun.
I loved the Chica! for its cross-cultural humor as much as its sophisticated taste. This is a serious Columbia Valley Pinot Gris with balanced aromas and flavors of citrus and peach. The label is really a kick. Morris said he wanted to play with the idea of a comic book style Latina Super Woman, something that doesn’t exist much, if at all, in Mexican culture. The bright picture on the label shows a woman in flamboyant sombrero with a drawn pistol on a rearing horse taking aim at a coiled rattlesnake. “Sin hombre y sin miedo!” the caption reads: Without man and without fear!
Pinkie a go-go is a refreshing blend of Rosé of Syrah, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. The label sports a go-go girl in white boots, a definite throwback to those carefree times decades ago.
Grill Thrill gets down to business with a bold blend of Wahluke Slope-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The label has a “Leave it to Beaver” quality, reminiscent of those All-American happy times around the barbecue where grillmasters rule.
Morris said he had help with the wines from Dusted Valley winery in Walla Walla, wanting to fashion a line that had mass appeal — perhaps especially to baby boomer women — while maintaining high quality, like Dusted Valley’s own Boomtown label wines. Morris said he wanted a line of wines that offered excellent quality without pretension.
The lighthearted line of wines takes nothing away from Napeequa’s premium label. Napeequa Vintners 2016 Chardonnay and 2014 SLR and Trailhead red blends are truly top tier wines, made with grapes from Washington’s best vineyards and carefully aged in French oak barrels.
Another innovation Morris offers are the new unbreakable, dishwasher safe, plastic tasting room glasses. The modest cost of a first tasting includes the glass that can be kept. Bring the shapely plastic glass back as often as you want for a free round of tastings.
“They’re boat and pool safe and I don’t have to wash them,” Morris said with a smile.