Koenig Distillery and Winery Review
Address: 20928 Grape Ln. Caldwell,Idaho 83607.
Phone Number: 208-455-8386
Tasting Hours: Wed-Sun 12:00-5:00 and by appt.
Region: Snake River Valley AVA, Idaho
Review Date: 7/20/2013
Three Wines Score 90+ in Wine Spectator Magazine
Having lived in Idaho for almost eighteen years, I have learned that Idaho state doesnt often get International recognition for anything. Think about it, when you hear the name Idaho, what comes to mind? I bet you said potatoes. Or on a slight change, perhaps you thought of garnets. Hardly news worthy. Since Idaho is still considered an “emerging” wine region, I figured it would be a long time before Idaho wineries would start receiving high ratings for their red wines from major wine publications such as Wine Spectator.
Well the wait is over. Koenig Winery and Distillery has three wines that scored 90+ in the July issue. Determined to cover this “major piece of news,” I set out to experience not a first time 90+ wine, but a first time Idaho 90+ wine – which made the experience even more exciting.
Idaho can have some extreme temperatures and this summer is no exception. As often happens when temperatures stay in the 100s for weeks, our air conditioner broke down so I spent the night before the scheduled tasting tossing and turning. Needless to say, this commentator was really grumpy when I started my journey. In addition to being grumpy, I was also afraid I would have trouble finding the facility in Idahos Sunny Slope wine region. I left home kicking myself for not purchasing that GPS a few weeks back. Much to my relief, Koenig has provided very good signage from Highway 55, which is a major road into the area, making it a breeze to locate. Ok, so not as grumpy now.
The Place:  Koenig Winery and Distillery sits atop a hill in with 360 degree views of the surrounding orchards and vineyards. The facility itself is reminiscent of a small European villa. Perhaps this is due to the fact that owners Andy and Greg Koenigs roots go back to their fathers home town in Lustenau, Austria where they spent three years. In front of the winery is a picnic area where you can enjoy the view with a glass of wine. The best views, though, are from the cozy balcony outside the tasting room.
The Experience:  From the moment you walk through the heavy wooden doors you feel transported back in time. Be forewarned, this facility is not handicapped friendly. There is a steep set of stairs to navigate to get to the tasting room, and there did not appear to be an elevator. Be sure to peer through the iron gate to your right to get a glimpse of the gorgeous copper processing equipment from Germany before ascending the stairs to the tasting room.
The tasting room has a quaint, old world feel. Tasting is free, and on the day of my tasting there were thirteen wines that could be sampled including the three award-winning wines. By this time, I had forgotten that I was grumpy and tired, and since we came early enough, the tasting room was not overly crowded; our server Katie had plenty of time to give us some one-on-one attention. Both of the servers were knowledgeable and friendly, and you could tell from their smiling faces that they truly like what they do, and by now, I too, had a smile on my face.
The Wines:  The 2010 Syrah Three Vineyard Cuvee received a 91 point score from Wine Spectator. This rich, full-bodied wine has a nice smoky aroma. It is 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier grown in nearby Williamson, Hells Canyon and Bitner Vineyards. It is an outstanding buy at just $20.00 per bottle.
The 2010 Cabernet/Syrah Blend received a 90 point score from Wine Spectator and is 50% Cabernet, 45% Syrah and 5% Viognier. The wine is made from exceptional barrels that were isolated specifically for this bottling. This wine has an intense, ripe, fruity aroma and expansive tannins. A bottle of this blend sells for $25.00, and I consider it a steal at this price.
For those of you who like Ice Wine, the 2010 received 91 points. This very sweet wine has hints of apricot, fig and key lime. It is produced from 95% Riesling and 5% Viognier that is handpicked and pressed while frozen. A bottle of this sells for $20.00. It is one of the better Ice Wines I have tasted.
The three award winners are not the only great wines that Koenig produces. Here are several other wines that we sampled that I consider outstanding wines. The 2010 Sangiovese is fabulous. This is the second release of a Sangiovese for Koenig, and it is full bodied with a rich cherry and plum taste. At $20.00 per bottle, this is another steal. Koenigs 2011 Viognier is very nice and is drier and fruitier than its 2011 Riesling. The 2010 Cuvee Amelia, made for Amelia Koenig, is 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier. This Reserve wine is medium-bodied and has an earthy aroma with intense smoke and cherry flavors. It sells for $50.00 per bottle. The other Reserve is the Cuvee Alden named for Alden Koenig. Only 72 cases were made. This Private Reserve was made without regard for cost or time. It is 55% Cabernet and 45% Merlot. The wine is French oak-aged and has a more intense black cherry flavor than the Amelia. It is also more astringent on the finish than the Amelia and sells for $50.00 per bottle.
I had hoped to sample a Port wine at this tasting because Koenig is not only a winery, but also a first-class distillery. Koenig produces some stellar brandies which it uses to produce its port wines. The subset of Brandy produced by the Koenig brothers is referred to as “eau de vie” which is a French term for water of life. These Brandies are clear, colorless, and made solely from fruit. Unfortunately for me, the port was sold out.
Insider Tips:  The facility is small and the tasting room can become very crowded. Go early to assure you can get up to the counter. This winery is not kid or handicap friendly. Plan to take your time and bring a designated driver as there is a lot to wine to sample. Space your samples, and if it isnt crowded, enjoy your sipping at one of the tables on the balcony. Join the wine club for a 15% discount or 30% off cases.