An impressive group of Walla Walla's winemakers recently cruised through town and hosted a fairly definitive tasting of the wines of this exciting AVA. Over forty wineries showed a full range of their wines to some eight hundred wine enthusiasts and trade.
Such opportunities bring out the focused madman of my personality and, foolishly, I seriously attempted to attack the room by varietal. Saving the whites for last, which I always think is a good strategy in mass tastings, I first powered through the merlots, circling the room and skipping other wines so as to focus my attention on that variety. Completing the merlots, I headed back to confront the cabernets, which I followed by the blends.
Once again, I confirmed the truth about these mass tastings. That is, that the wineries in the second half of the alphabet, in general, make less interesting wines than those in the first half.
I'm a pro, obsessed with tasting, with three decades of tasting experience and I can't do it. The wines offered by tables in the last half of these tasting marathons just don't have a chance to show well. While a great promo for the AVA, this was certainly no place to judge the quality of the wines or make buying decisions. These mega-tastings should only be considered social events, with a good time for all the only goal, but getting anything but the most general impressions of a certain wine's quality is all that you can hope to discern. Recognize these events as the promotional cocktail parties they are and leave your tasting notes book at home.