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Gamache wines are big on the palate | NW Wines
By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Wine Press Northwest
Brothers Bob and Roger Gamache began growing wine grapes on a plateau above the Columbia River in 1982, primarily for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. But in 2002, they decided to launch a winery — named after their family — with the help of Charlie Hoppes.
Very quickly, Gamache Vintners wines became highly acclaimed.
Roger oversees the viticulture side of the business, while Bob handles the winery, and their synergy is paying off.
Their wine was originally made at Cañon de Sol near Richland, Wash., where Hoppes made his own Fidelitas label, and the brothers opened a tasting room not far away. They’ve since relocated to a posh tasting room at the Vintners Village in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser, within walking distance of about a dozen other wineries.
The vineyard is near the town of Basin City, nearly 30 miles north of Pasco, an area long renowned for its ability to ripen quality wine grapes and other crops. Gamache’s estate vineyard is 185 acres in size, and the brothers manage another vineyard that is about 220 acres in size. Additionally, they farm 215 acres of tree fruits. Not long ago, they purchased a five-acre block on venerable Red Mountain, adjacent to Fidelitas. The block is unplanted, as the Gamaches wait for water to arrive through a project with the Kennewick Irrigation District.
Gamache sells grapes to about 20 different wineries, and about 10 percent of its grapes is used for the estate label.
Here are a few Gamache wines we’ve tasted in recent weeks. Check with your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the winery (509-786-7800).
- Gamache Vintners 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $28. This big Cab from estate fruit is a beauty, opening with aromas of blackberries, black cherries, raspberries, mint, vanilla and pomegranates. The ample palate is dominated by ripe black fruit, including black cherries, as well as dark chocolate, blueberries and olives on the finish. The bold tannins are well integrated through the lengthy finish.
- Gamache Vintners 2006 Gamache-Champoux Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40. The Gamache brothers and Horse Heaven Hills grape grower Paul Champoux are family, so they combine grapes annually for this reserve-level Cabernet Sauvignon. It is loaded with dark fruit, including aromas of blackberries, black cherries and dark plums. It’s a big wine on the palate, with flavors of black cherries, plums and black pepper. Opulent tannins back all the fruit and make it approachable in its youth, though we think it also will age beautifully for the next decade or so.
- Gamache Vintners 2006 Estate Syrah, Columbia Valley, $28. This stunning Syrah opens with big, jammy aromas of ripe blackberries, dark plums, boysenberry jam and a whisper of smoke, followed by flavors of black cherries, black currants, black licorice, mineral, black tea and black pepper. The tannins and acidity do a nice job of backing up the ample fruit.
- Gamache Vintners 2007 Estate Malbec, Columbia Valley, $28. Malbec, a minor red grape in Bordeaux, has become a major force in Washington the past few years, not unlike the growth in Syrah a decade ago. This example opens with aromas of black cherries, ripe plums, pipe tobacco and cedar, followed by flavors of purple fruit such as plums and huckleberries, as well as ripe Bing cherries and black pepper. It is beautifully balanced with integrated tannins, leading to a lengthy finish.
- Gamache Vintners 2008 Estate Boulder Red, Columbia Valley, $18. This blend of Bordeaux varieties adds a splash of Syrah (8 percent). The aromas include dried Bing cherry, citrus, cedar and a bit of leafiness from the Cabernet Franc (16 percent). It’s lively and juicy on the palate with Marionberries and plums. Subdued tannins give way to a pinch of ground pepper in the finish.
— Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine.