Appellation: Columbia Valley
Tamarack Cellars is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its flagship wine, the Firehouse Red – a bottling that has paid tribute to the winery’s long-time home at the Army’s air base during World War II. Founding winemaker Ron Coleman was among the first in the state to make a splash with a proprietary red wine, and he and his assistant, Danny Gordon, quickly learned that Syrah was the magical component to the blend, adding a remarkable suppleness to the mouthfeel and allowing them to achieve a consistent structure vintage after vintage. That helps explain why Firehouse Red is often found as a by-the-glass option at thoughtful restaurants and a remarkable bargain for diners who order it by the bottle. The 2017 vintage leads with Syrah (33%), but the rest of the blend is largely devoted to Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), Merlot (18%), Cabernet Franc (11%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Twice in its history the Firehouse Red has earned a spot on Wine Spectator’s year-end Top 100 list, and this 2017 bottling deserves to be in consideration for 2020. It’s savory, smooth and complex with notes of blackberry, cassis, forest floor and eucalyptus that lead to a finish of black cherry and Baker’s chocolate. Coleman sold the iconic brand to Sonoma-based Vintage Wine Estates in 2018, but the Sonoma-based company wisely retained Gordon as the head winemaker. Judging by the results of the 2020 Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition, Tamarack Cellars is still among the best producers in this famous region. Three of Gordon’s wines were entered, and each of them received a gold medal – including the 2017 Firehouse Red.
When contacting the winery, ask about the limited edition Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red Winemaker’s Roast coffee. The beans were grown in Guatemala at El Injert Estate and finished to a medium roast by Walla Walla Roastery.
Rated “Outstanding!” by Great Northwest Wine. (13.8% alc.)
Cases produced: 12,000
Food pairings: Enjoy with anything red and juicy – roasted beef, lamb or tomato-based dishes.
Tamarack Cellars recently closed its historic tasting room at the Walla Walla Regional Airport complex, but it plans to open a new location in downtown Walla Walla when conditions are more conducive to visitors.
Great Northwest Wine