Sips: a top small-production chenin blanc from Kyra Wines in Washington

This one falls under the category of excellent small-production wine at a very reasonable price. The setting was Bellevue, Washington on a recent Saturday night. I had arrived a day ahead of the third annual Riesling Rendezvous, a major conference on the grape, and found myself looking for a place to have a glass of wine or two and a bite to eat. Not far from my hotel I came across the Purple Café and Wine Bar, a large and attractive space that had plenty of room at the bar. After scanning the wines offered by th  Templatee glass, I went with the 2008 Columbia Valley Chenin Blanc from Kyra  Wines. The winery, based in Moses Lake, Washington, was unfamiliar to me, which was understandable when I read on its Facebook page that it produces just 2,000 cases a year, divided among three whites and five red offerings. Indeed, the chenin blanc, with 430 cases of the ‘08 produced, is one of the bigger bottlings, though, of course, tiny compared with production of some of the bigger and more familiar Washington wineries. The grapes were sourced from the Harold Pleasant Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.

I was immediately struck by the wine’s pronounced acidity, which provided nice balance to a bit of residual sugar . The overall impression was dry and fruity with lots of tropical fruit notes, apricot and a burst of citrus. It turned out to be an excellent match for a number of small plates I ordered, including salmon tartare and a spicy soybean-based edamame hummus.  The glass was $8.50, which is pretty standard when it comes to wine-bar pricing on the lower end these days. I figured that a bottle of the wine, at retail, might go for around $20 or so. The answer came the next day when I was wandering around the Pike Place market in Seattle and walked into the Pike & Western Wine Shop. Much to my surprise, the Kyra Chenin Blanc was just $12.50. I almost bought a bottle to take home to New York but then remembered the hassles of bringing wine on planes these days. Oh, well. For now I’ll just have to savor the memory of that glass and the prospect of trying more of Kyra’s wines.

The winery is owned by Kyra and Bruce Baerlocher and Kyra doubles as the winemaker. More information and shipping information can be found at their Web site.

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