Saturday, March 31, 2018

Drink Washington Wine, Rulo!

March is Washington Wine month.

For Seattleites, this means thirty-one glorious days of discounts on Washington wine at participating grocery chains, wine shops, and restaurants. The annual celebration of Washington wine culminates in a four-day food and wine festivity known as Taste Washington. The 2018 Taste Washington program brought together thousands of food-and-wine enthusiasts to enjoy a spread of over 200 wineries and 60 restaurants. There were numerous tasting events and seminars to boot.

For this month's post, I'd like to highlight a Washington winery that is a bit of a hidden gem, Rulo Winery.

Rulo Winery
We discovered Rulo through a friend's recommendation and had a chance to try it with dinner at Whitehouse-Crawford, a dining establishment in Walla Walla. Its Rhone-style red did not disappoint.

Rulo is solely owned and run by winemaker Dr. Kurt Schlicker and his wife, Vickie. They do everything themselves, from vineyard checks, winemaking, equipment cleaning, and tasting room management. Their low-key approach also means that their wine distribution can be quite limited, even within the state. However, if you have tasted Rulo, you will understand why it is well sought after.

Although located among Walla Walla's gorgeous Southside wineries and close to famous neighbors such as Northstar and Amavi, Rulo opens its modestly-decorated tasting room to the public only by appointment. However, once you have that appointment set up, your visit is very much rewarded with a delicious flight and fascinating conversations with Kurt or Vickie.

Rulo is 100% screwcaps
An MD from the University of Washington with a BS in Medical Microbiology from Stanford University, Kurt happily geeks out about wine yeasts and the fermentation process. He is chock full of knowledge and loves the process of coaxing yeasts and bacteria to consume sugar, amino acids, and other compounds to produce a delectable elixir from the grapes.

Kurt makes primarily Rhone-style wines and Chardonnay although he has successfully ventured into varietals that are unusual for Washington, such as Petite Sirah and Grenache Blanc. The other thing that sets Rulo apart from many high-quality Washington wines is the 100% use of screwcaps to counter any problem with cork taint. And if price point has kept you from enjoying high quality wine, you'll love how friendly Rulo wines are to your wallet as they range from $20 to $40 a bottle.

Recently, I opened the 2014 Petite Sirah, and here are my tasting notes:

2014 Rulo Petite Sirah

2014 Rulo Petite Sirah Heart of The Hill Vineyard
Price: $35

When I think of Petite Sirah, Washington is not the first region to come to mind. While originally discovered in France in the 1800s, most of today's Petite Sirah is grown in California. 2014 is Rulo Winery's second vintage of Petite Sirah, and the grapes hail from Red Mountain's Heart of the Hill Vineyard.

On the nose, there is plum and berry. On the palate, the dark fruit carries through with a good balance of wood and a hint of chocolate. It is full-bodied with medium acidity and smooth tannins. The finish is long-lasting.

We paired the wine with lamb burger topped with creamy dill ranch on avocado and onion slices. The full body, tannins, and bold flavors of the wine match well with the gaminess and fattiness of the lamb burger and the savory dressing.

My Verdict: The Petite Sirah is a winner.

But whether it is Petite Sirah, Rhone-style (both red and white), or Chardonnay, Rulo wines are definitely worth trying. I would recommend adding Rulo to your itinerary the next time you visit Walla Walla. If you can't make it out there, check this link out on where you can find their wines.