One of the things that we have learned about the various wineries and tasting rooms in Woodinville is that there are many pleasant surprises awaiting you. The day we wandered into Gorman Winery (19501 144th Ave. NE, C500) we got one of those surprises.We were fortunate to run into Chris Gorman who was just heading out as we walked in. Chris is an energetic person with a lot of passion for both food and wine. He even mentioned he would someday love to open an old-fashioned steak house in Woodinville. Stay tuned for that.
Chris traveled extensively in his earlier years in Italy, Spain and Germany learning as much as he could about their wines.
Chris is not one to compromise on his wines. He has a certain philosophy “that to make wine you must first understand wine” and that quality is the most important aspect of wine producing, no matter what. He started his winery in 2002 with a goal of focusing on producing some of the best wines in the world by taking advantage of the great grapes that Washington state grows. He is convinced that our state can compete with any region in the world, and his wines demonstrate that fact by consistently getting between 92 and 95 points.
The new Gorman tasting room is located at The Station in the Tourist District, right on the main roundabout. The tasting room was well appointed with simple but inviting decor. They even had a pinball machine in the corner and an electric guitar hanging on the wall with a small amplifier next to it. It was fitting that they were playing rock-and-roll music in the background (AC/DC as we recall).
Joan Dunlop was our host for the tasting and handled all of our detailed questions with ease. We were able to taste a variety of his wines starting with “The Big Sissy Chardonnay 2010.” This is 100 percent Chardonnay from the Conner Lee Vineyard. It is barrel fermented in new French oak and was a great way to start the tasting. We then moved on to “Zachary’s Ladder,” a three grape blend with a bit of a grassy taste. It is named after Chris’s son, who used to sit on the bottom rung of the ladder while Chris worked on the wine. This was the best value wine we tasted of the day priced at $30.
However, our favorites of the day include “The Bully Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain 2008” (93 point WS) which is 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 percent Petite Verdot. It is aged in 100 percent new French oak. Also a favorite was “The Evil Twin, Red Mountain 2009” (95 points WS) which is 70 percent Syrah and 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and also aged in 100 percent new French oak. Our last favorite was “The Albatross” (95 points WS) which is 66 prcent Cabernet Sauvignon and 34 percent Petit Verdot. It had earthy overtones with a hint of licorice. You know you are in a quality tasting room when you have three “favorites.” All of these wines are, as you would expect, made in limited quantities.
Gorman Winery should be on everyone’s list when tasting wines in Woodinville. Their wines run on the upper end of pricing (from $30 to $80) but are well worth it.