Adams Bench Review
Address: 14360 160th Pl. NE Woodinville,Washington 98072.
Phone Number: 425-408-1969
Tasting Hours: By appt. Sat 12:00-4:00
Region: Puget Sound AVA, Woodinville, Washington
Reviewer: Jade Helm
Review Date: 5/25/2014
Reviewer: Jade Helm
Adams Bench Winery, in the Hollywood District of Woodinville WA, is a bit of a hybrid between country and urban. It sits in a neighborhood of farms, wineries, and residences, with big houses and landscaping to match. Pulling into the drive you can see the home of Tim and Erica Blue, owners/winemakers. It lies behind the made-to-match tasting room and winemaking barn. A white picket fence surrounds green lawns and cherry trees in bloom. There are even grapevines growing at the neighbors property. Yet all of this exists just off the tasting room-dotted main thoroughfare – Woodinville-Redmond Road.
Because the owners live on site, visitors get the family welcome – unusual for an urban winery. In the tasting room we found Tim, with daughter Hannah, and cousin Jamie. Tim, who generously answered our questions, excused himself each time someone entered or exited the tasting room. A natural host, Tim greeted visitors making instant connections over sports teams, home states, travel, etc. Some were returning guests. One group in particular commented that they had come at closing time on their first visit. Tim had stayed a little late and given them ample time to taste and learn about the winery. This, along with the wines, made an impression on them.
Tim and Erica came to the wine business after establishing careers in law and medicine. Their wine explorations took them all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad. When they decided to become part of the industry, they began with study at UC Davis. When people inquire, Tim likes to say he learned to make wine in the Baptist Church. It was actually Tims strict upbringing in part that kept him from tasting his first sip of alcohol until he was 43. His father-in-law actually encouraged him to try. He found himself at a family dinner (Ericas side) and everyone was given wine. He finally took a sip to be polite and whispered to his wife, Id rather have a Coke. As the evening progressed his whisper changed to This could be the greatest day of my life.
Tim seems to enjoy telling stories like these, and for people who like to meet the winemaker, this is a rare opportunity in an otherwise urban winery setting. He especially likes to tell the story behind the name Adams Bench. We wont spoil it. Just note that guests seem to want their picture taken on the the bench and Tim amiably agrees to pose.
Adams Bench is proud to purchase much of their fruit (especially their Cabernet Sauvignon) from Red Willow Vineyard. One of the oldest vineyards in Yakima Valley, Red Willow recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. Near harvest, Tim makes the 700 mile trip every 2 weeks to taste grapes and determine the optimal time to pick.
There were three wines on the tasting menu plus a few soon to be released. We found the 2009 Reckoning, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, to be the most new world, fruit forward in style. Very pronounced, bright piercing fruit and vanilla, high acidity, and soft structured tannins characterized this wine.
The other wines were quite different. They reminded us of very young Bordeaux. We tasted 2010 Artz and Shaw (Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon), 2010 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 V (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and 2011 Red Willow (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc). The fruit was restrained, and flavors of earth, dust, minerals, and damp leaves were prominent. There was a lot of tannin – Thats okay, the top layer of my inner cheek needed a little sloughing -style tannin.
We are very curious how these wines will develop over time. There is a Red Willow Vertical for sale on their website that could be interesting. If they ever hold a library wine tasting we hope to attend. We predict the tannins will soften and the flavors will mellow. While these wines will always be more earthy than fruity, time should result in a more integrated structure revealing complex flavors.
For those looking for a break from the urban wine scene, who like easy parking and meeting the winemaker, Adams Bench is a great stop. Collectors should certainly plan a stop. Can you buy good, young Bordeaux for $50-60?