The Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2017 is a blend of 33% Syrah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Grenache, 2% Counoise, 2% Sangiovese, and 2% Petit Verdot sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington State. Counoise is a grape typically found in the Rhone Valley in France and used in Red blends.
Tamarack Cellars was founded in 1998 and usually produced more boutique single vineyard wines and the Firehouse Red is their more value-priced Red (I found it for around $15). The back of the label says “produced and bottled by” Tamarack Cellars which means they may not have grown the grapes, but they did everything else.
In the age of Wine Corporations and LLC’s, it is rare to find a value-priced wine that actually tells you who made the wine. I have great respect for wineries who produce upscale wines, but also produce wine priced for the average wine drinker. Bringing a wine of good value year in and year out is not an easy task.
The Firehouse Red seems to be made with a great deal of precision as shown by the exacting nature of the blend percentages. The oak barrel program is also fine-tuned, 40% of the wine was aged in new barrels with the remaining 69% aged in 2nd and 3rd use barrels. An average oak wine barrel is used 4 or 5 times before it is considered neutral and with each use, it gives off a little less oak flavoring.
The oak used is a mix of French and American oak, with some Hungarian oak barrels added in. French and Hungarian oak is the same species and adds similar flavoring to the wine. American oak is a different species with wider wood grain and tastes different from French oak.
Each of the lots of grapes was aged separately in oak barrels for a year and after that time the blend was created. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2017 Tasting Notes
The color is basically an opaque black cherry red with a clear halo. The nose is ripe fruit and spice, both black and red berries, candy spice and BBQ sauce with the aroma of burnt ends added in, and Red Twizzlers.
This is a wine that is smooth on the palate, but it is not a simple wine, there is a lot of flavors. It tastes of ripe blackberry, slightly tart raspberry, chocolate powder, and a little slightly sharp Dr. Pepper.
The mid-palate offers orange zest, smooth blueberry, sour cherry, herbs, and vanilla. I think if you took your time and tried hard enough you can actually taste every grape in the blend. The tannins do not bite and the acidity keeps the flavors unfolding.
- The Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2017 is a delicious and precisely made red blend.
- Some red wines are a seamless blend you can not tell one grape from the other, but the Firehouse Red seems to justify each grape in the blends inclusion.
- An interesting selection of grapes and top-quality winemaking makes for a very tasty wine.