I was first introduced to the wines of Tamarack Cellars by owner Ron Coleman a few months before I opened Salut! in 2002. Immediately, I was struck by how his wines had more character, more panache and more contemplative flavors for the palate than the other Walla Walla wines I had been tasting at the time. Far from being plump, fat & juicy fruit, (or even worse, some euthanized version of classic French terroir-driven style), Ron’s wines had both a bold flair and a striking non-emphasis on the fruit & body. The Firehouse Red is the winery’s entry-level red, and steps up as a phenomenal first-string value wine.
There’s plenty of cherry flavors to be had here, and plenty of full body. What’s added into the mix by Ron and his Assistant Winemaker Dan Gordon is layer upon layer of flavors from a variety of other grapes in the Cab/Merlot/Syrah mix, each of which is given enough lines in the story to tell their tale. Sangiovese, Malbec and Carmenere each add up to 3% of their flavors to the final 2007 blend, and Cab Franc provides another 8%. The result is a multi-act play showing raspberry, cherry, tea, chocolate, bright plum, blueberry. bramble, white pepper spice and more.
The winery describes the wine: “Tastes like really, really good red wine. Which varietal is lending which notes? Who cares? Rounded, lush, layered and lovely, the ultimate food wine, pairing well with everything from pasta and pizza to grilled meat and roasted chicken. Bright raspberry, currant, mocha, a touch of pepper spice, soft tannins and a lingering finish… year in and year out, it’s like partying with an old friend.”
I call the Tamarack wines “thinking mens’ wines”…they won’t try to tackle you with oak, massive body and fruit. Instead, Ron’s wines will lead you through a tale of toil and artistry with every sip. Begin your journey with the Firehouse Red, and see if it doesn’t convince you to step further into their Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot releases.
This wine is available at Salut! Wine Co. for $18.99, or available to wine club members for only $16.14!
Visit the Tamarack Cellars Website
Tour the Walla Walla Wineries at the Walla Walla Wine Alliance homepage
Plan a tour of Walla Walla a their Walla Walla Tourism Board website
Learn about blending wines using a Pearson Square at this Grapestompers article
Read about Sangiovese, the famed grape of Tuscany, at Wikipedia
Read and article about Carmenere’s resergence after years of lanquishing in obscurity
Have you tasted this wine? When you’ve had a chance to enjoy this wine, please return to this blog and leave your comments! Others will appreciate your input, unique viewpoint, and recommendations.