March is officially Washington Wine Month, so let’s get started a little early and look at one of our recent additions from the great Northwest, J. Bookwalter. This literarily themed winery (heck, “book” is part of their name) brings incredible wines from Washington State, with a novel focus on the written word. With a tasting room restaurant called “Fiction” and a wine club that’s called “The Book Club” this winery keeps that literary theme coming. Their wines are crafted like any fine piece of literature, starting from the copious notes found in a notebook, and finishing with plenty of foreshadowing, especially in their Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ten generations of the Bookwalter family have been involved in American agriculture, but it was the last two generations that brought the family into viticulture. Working at famous Washington wineries in the late 70s and early 80s, Jerry Bookwalter, the father of the current company president, John Bookwalter (both conveniently have J as a first initial) became vineyard manager of the famed Connor Lee Vineyard, which remains as the largest source for their wines. John grew up in the vineyards of Eastern Washington. He left to write his own destiny in the industry but returned in 1997 to becoming “managing editor” at the winery. He hired Zelma Long and Claude Gros as consulting winemakers and introduced a new brand identity with award-winning packaging, showing you can judge a book by its cover.
In 2014 John turned over the winemaking to Caleb Foster and they have continued to garner more and more awards. The 2013 Foreshadow Cabernet, which we sell for $43, is a plot-driven, nail biter of a wine. Sweet ripe fruits with vanilla oak leap out of the glass. Full-bodied and explosive, the wine has the ripe juiciness of this hot vintage. Aromas of cherries with herbs, orange peel and brambleberry merge with subtle coffee notes providing a long finish. Showing the rich fruit of Columbia Valley, this wine is sourced from several old Columbia blocks, but includes blocks from Yakima Valley and Wahluke Slope, and blends in a little Malbec and Syrah to give even more complexity and depth. Wine Spectator gave this limited edition a 91; it also received high marks from both The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, making it a best seller.
J. Bookwalter’s The Notebook is an incredible value red blend at only $15 per bottle, and as we all know, red blends are definitely topping the charts. An explosion of ripe plum and juicy blackberry aromas erupt when I crack open the Stelvin top of this Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot non-vintage blend. The juiciness persists on the palate but is framed by spicy notes like black pepper and toasted pecan. Velvety tannins glide across the tongue and this literary masterpiece finishes ripe with just enough minerality to give complexity and length, like a novel more than a notebook, full of intrigue, exciting plot points and fruity themes with a lengthy denouement.
So far, these are the only two books we’ve cracked open from J. Bookwalter, but with other offerings that continue the theme like Suspense, Conflict, The Protagonist, The Antagonist, Volume 4 and Chapter 5, I think we’ll be expanding our library very soon. Remember to think of Washington wines this March during Washington Wine Month, crack open a bottle of something from Washington and enjoy our diversity of vinous options. Look for other ABC blogs and specials that will feature our great wines from Washington State!
WINE SPECTATOR 91
“Fresh and inviting, this red has firm, powdery tannins and generous cherry and plum fruit notes, coming together with hints of cedar and espresso as the finish lingers expressively. Best from 2018 to 2021.” – HS
Dan Eddy, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineDanE