Located in a renovated firehouse from a World War II Army Air Base outside the town of Walla Walla, Ron and Jamie Coleman founded Tamarack Cellars in 1998 and have operated this family run winery since then. Tamarack's first vintage consisted of 300 cases of Merlot. The winery has grown considerably, now up to 20,000 cases each year. Head winemaker, Danny Gordon, has worked at Tamarack since 1999. While Gordon has no formal training in wine, he has learned from his Walla Walla colleagues over the years and his new releases are excellent. Tamarack has received considerable acclaim for their Firehouse Red in the past and their new effort, the 2013, was fruity, yet balanced, and delivers for the price. I was also particularly impressed with their 2014 Chardonnay, that was a mineral driven effort and is one of the best from Washington that I’ve tried at the $15.00 price point.
Their red wines were also solid and were taken from the warm 2013 vintage. Their 2012 Syrah is drinking beautifully now and is hard to resist with the black fruit flavor profiles. Similarly, their 2012 Cabernet is one of the best Cabernet values in the Walla Walla valley. It is a rich and layered effort that shouldn’t be missed. You can find the Firehouse Red at Costco but all other wines can be found online at https://tamarackcellars.com/store Here are the new release wines from Tamarack Cellars. #tamarackcellars
2014 Tamarack Chardonnay- This wine was sourced from the Olsen Brothers, Lewis, Gamache, Bacchus, Sagemoor and Alderbanks vineyards. 70% was aged in used French oak from Cadus, Damy, Dargaud & Jaegle, Francois Freres, Louis Latour and Sirugue, while 30% was aged in stainless tanks, prior to bottling in March 2015. This wine opens with bright aromas of Bartlett pear, wet stone and cantaloupe. This leads to flavors reminiscent of pineapple, golden delicious apple and brioche. The minerality lingers on the tongue in the lingering finish. This is an excellent effort. Drink 2015-2020- 91
2013 Tamarack Firehouse Red- This wine is an intriguing blend of 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 7% Sangiovese, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Grenache and 1% devoted to Counoise, Mourvèdre Malbec and Cinsault. This wine was aged 40% new oak barrels, mostly French and American oak with a small portion of Eastern European oak for 16 months. This wine has aromas of stewed prune, red cherry and dill. This leads to flavors of cocoa powder, red cherry, dill and smoked meats. This is a delicious, medium bodied effort that is meant for early consumption. This would be a fantastic steakhouse pour. Drink 2015-2020- 90
2012 Tamarack Syrah- This wine combines fruit from Columbia Valley, the Bacchus Vineyard and Horse Heaven Hills, the Alder Ridge Vineyard and the Destiny Ridge Vineyard. This was aged in 10% new Hungarian oak with the remaining 90% in second and third fill French oak for 17 months. This deep hued wine has aromas of mocha, blackberry and pencil shavings. This leads to ripe black fruits of black cherry, blackberry and blueberry pie. Thee is a nice mineral streak with good richness. I could see this pairing incredibly well with a juicy fillet mignon. Drink 2015-2022- 92
2013 Tamarack Cabernet- This primarily Columbia Valley Cab was sourced from Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Alder Ridge and Tapteil vineyards. This wine was recently released in October 2015 and is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cab Franc and 6% Merlot. It spent 24 months in French oak (65% new) and opens with aromas of anise, black olive and blackberry. This leads to a medium bodied mouthfeel, with moderate tannins and flavors of black olive, blackberry, mocha and anise. This is rock solid, with a striking minerality, and offers an excellent value. Drink 2015-2025- 92
2013 Tamarack Cabernet Franc- The Weinbau vineyard has a terrific reputation for Cab Franc, as this wine is comprised of 86% Weinbau Vineyard, (Wahluke Slope), with smaller parts from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (9%) and Tapteil Vineyard (5%), both located in the Red Mountain AVA. This was aged in 20% new French oak with the remaining 80% used French oak. The wine opens with aromas of dill, black cherry, blueberry and oak. This leads to flavors reminiscent of blueberry, milk chocolate, blackberry and dill, with some mild to moderate tannins. I would consider cellaring this for another year. This impressive effort is a great value and I can’t help thinking how it mirrors the flavor profiles of the Januik Weinbau Vineyard Cab Franc. Drink 2016-2026- 91
2013 Tamarack Merlot- This new release Merlot was sourced from Tapteil, Weinbau, Ciel du Cheval, Seven Hills, Dionysus, Bacchus and Gamache vineyards. It is a blend of 86% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot and weighs in at 14.2% alcohol. The wine has aromas of sandalwood, red cherry and raspberry. There are flavors of anise, blackberry and black cherry in a lovely mineral driven effort. This has nice weight and a silky texture. Drink 2015-2022 -91