Maison Bleue Tasting Room (Walla Walla, WA)
The first thing you notice when you walk in to Maison Bleue’s downtown Walla Walla tasting room is how spacious it is. Not that it is big, or empty, but spacious. The ceilings must be 15 feet tall. It is the height over head that really contributes to that feeling of spaciousness. The décor adds to that feeling; furnishings are simple, tasteful and sparse. The walls are bare, but for two chalk boards to inform you about the wine, and painted a dark cobalt blue which adds to the feeling of space and class. They climb to a beautiful white plaster brocade ceiling.
Maison Bleue poured five wines, two white and three red. We sat on a comfy leather couch and Mike, who was working in the tasting room brought the wines to us and told us a bit about each as he poured for us. His conversation was helpful and friendly; like an excellent waiter he was there enough, and just enough.
2012 Au Contraire Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay from French Creek Vineyard in Yakima Valley. The moderately aromatic nose shows apples, honeydew melon and hints of almond paste. Medium body with good balance, the goal seems to clearly be to express the vineyard as opposed to the winemaker’s hand. 100% malo and aging in French oak puncheons, instead of barrels, give texture but don’t take away from the wine’s elegant restraint. A hint of acid punctuates the finish.
$25 US at their tasting room, the 2011 is also available at Marquis (www.marquis-wines.com), and for only $25 CDN.
2012 Metis Blanc
60% Marsanne, 35% Grenache Blanc and 5% Roussanne from Boushey and Dutchmen Vineyards in Yakima Valley. Lovely aromas of apricots, honey and citrus combine together and are supported by a slight nuttiness. Medium to full body, the intensity is driven up a level here. The voices of aroma, taste and mouthfeel all sing louder but stay in harmony. Would pair well with seafood and white meats, this bigger wine asks to be served with food!
$30 US at their tasting room
2011 La Montagnette Grenache
100% Grenache from Upland Vineyard in Snipes Mountain. Deep red with a big nose of cherry liquer, cracked pepper spices. Medium full body with a long finish that reveals its structure and aging potential. Moderately complex.
$40 US at their tasting room
2011 Le Midi Grenache
100% Grenache from the Boushey Vineyard in Yakima Valley. Similar to the preceding but even more intense. This wine is dialed but stays in bounds. The colour is slightly darker and the nose reveals black cherries and raspberries. Also structured, this wine is even more complex with its herbs and spice notes that accent the red and black fruit profile and add interest make it a wine to think about.
$45 US at their tasting room.
2011 Le Liberte Syrah
100% Syrah from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, this wine was impenetrably dark. Very aromatic with blackberry, road tar and underpinned with a hint of peppery spices. Full body, big and structured, this was almost a departure from the house signature of elegance. But the balance was so precise that it never appeared heavy or overdone. The flavours of blackfruits persist in a long finish.
$50 US at their tasting room.
Maison Bleue provides an overall excellent tasting room experience, with an ambiance and professionalism that enhances their and compliments the restraint of their delicious wines.