Kamiak Wines Play Hail to the Chief

You know how there are these online translators like Babel Fish where you can paste some alien gobbledygook into a text box and it gets instantly converted into English?

I’m thinking of launching a translator where you can convert ‘press release’ into English.

For example, you’d plug in this phrase from the recently released vintage of Kamiak wines: “The wine is a quintessential example of originality in the vineyard coupled with the artful blending of multiple varietals to achieve a light, approachable wine that showcases the best of its individual components.”

And immediately, you’d get the English translation:  “We had some leftover grapes we didn’t know what to do with.”

I joke, but the 2008 Kamiak ‘Windust’ white is the culmination of what Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards calls an ‘odd’ harvest—a cold wet spring that heralded a cool wet summer which led to a chilly wet autumn.  As such, the gewürztraminer that would normally go into Kamiak as a sugar-level enhancer was instead made into ice wine.  A block of late harvest sauvignon blanc was then substituted to boost residual sugar—otherwise, this vintage of Kamiak white is mostly made of traditional-harvest sauvignon blanc fattened up with about 10% chardonnay.

Both the red and white Kamiak label offerings are proprietary blends that the Gordon Brothers intends to retail at around ten and fifteen dollars respectively.  It’s understood up front that the grapes that go into them may change from year to year based on what’s available—the 2007 red (designated ‘RockLake’)  is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and malbec.  No issues with that; it’s a clever use of handy components, and the Kamiak twins usually taste pricier than they are.

Incidentally, the name ‘Kamiak’ refers to the Native American chief who led the Yakama, Palouse, and Klickitat tribes during the 19th century and who is credited with agricultural innovations including irrigation in theColumbiaValley.

Kamiak’s trick-of-the-trade is being used to this day by wineries all over southern WashingtonState.

Paying homage to Kamiak and company, the Gordon Brothers say, “This wine is a tribute to our predecessors. Without them, we would not have the technology and skill that have made theWashingtonwine industry what it is today.”

True dat!—or the land either.  In fact, in 1855,WashingtonTerritorygovernor Isaac Stevens threatened to remove Kamiak and his fellow natives from their ancestral land by force if they didn’t sell it to him, leading to the bloody Yakima Indian War.  Kamiak was the only chief who refused to surrender; he escaped toBritish Columbia.

After he died he was decapitated and his head displayed as a public curiosity.

So I’ll run another phrase from the Kamiak press release through the Kassel Fish translator: “Thanks to those who came before us, we have the ability to grow grapes of character, intensity and distinction in the sun-drenched Columbia Valley.”

It comes out, “Sorry about that, Chief.”

Tasting Notes:

Kamiak ‘Windust’ White, Columbia Valley, 2010, about $10:  Pretty crushed-flower  nose with tangerine and grapefruit peel; slightly sweet and balanced with vibrant acidity wet stone flavors pick up and last through the surprisingly long finish.

Kamiak ‘Red Rock’ Red, Columbia Valley, 2008, about $15:  The wine’s cabernet core is reflected in licorice and cedar notes; syrah offers some blackberry, merlot plum and malbec dried cherry and a little coffee.  A nicely layered wine for the price.

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