I am very excited about the wines from both 2013 and 2014. 2013 is a fantastic year. It was warm but finished off rather cool to preserve freshness and acidity in the wines. We have found that, even in warm years, our sites still allow us to pick early. We still get the flavor and intensity we want from the wines, and they aren’t over ripe. Brandon Moss
We are in the midst of a fantastic series of vintages in Washington. While 2012 is a classic vintage that needs time, 2013 shares similar complexity and intensity, but won’t require the same patience. In 2013, we managed to pick a bit earlier than in 2012. The 2013 wines are some of the freshest and most complex and aromatic we have made. Greg Harrington
2013 Syrah “Forgotten Hills Vineyard” Walla Walla
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to write this tasting note. (Greg) I have obsessed over this vineyard since I discovered Washington wine. We have used fruit from Forgotten Hills in most of the vintages from 2005 – 2012, albeit in very small quantities. In 2015, we had the opportunity to purchase the vineyard.
Jeff Hill planted the vineyard in a basalt filled field behind his house because he needed something to do during retirement. He said his kids forgot about him when they went to college. Sitting near the base of the Blue Mountains, very near Les Collines, I haven’t found another vineyard similar in Washington. Because of the cool air rolling off the mountains, the climate is substantially cooler than the typical Walla Walla vineyard. There is usually a 3-week window between harvest at Les Collines and Forgotten Hills.
Forgotten Hills is about acidity, mineral, smoke, blood and iron. Yes, I wrote that. It is hard core Syrah, for those that love the Old World. It starts life full of red fruit, then gradually the funk develops after about a year.
This wine was fermented 55% on stems and aged in a mix of older 225L and 500L puncheons for 18 months.
A new wine that’s from their newly purchased Forgotten Hills Vineyard, which is cool terroir, the 2013 Syrah Forgotten Hills checks in at 13% alcohol and wasn’t harvest until October 15. It will see 18 months in puncheons before bottling. Beautifully fresh and focused, with lots of dried violet, peppery herbs, hints of meatiness and a solid core of fruit, it has solid depth, medium to full-bodied weight and impressive purity and polish to its tannin. Give it a few years once released. (92-94 pts Jeb Dunnuck)
Tasting notes: Smoked meat, raspberry, blackberry, black olive, stone, iron, blood, red flowers. Extremely fresh and vibrant. Racy acidity. Medium bodied.
Whole Cluster 55%
Forgotten Hills Vineyard
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2050
2013 Syrah “Lagniappe” Columbia Valley
We are continually fascinated by Red Willow Vineyard, farmed by the Sauer family in the Yakima Valley. Each year it seems to get better and better. We debated with making the 2013 Lagniappe a single vineyard wine. The Red Willow fruit could easily stand alone. However, with this wine we return to the past a bit. In 2005, when we first made Lagniappe, it was a blend of Yakima fruit and Forgotten Hills. In 2013, we again learned how brilliant Forgotten Hill blends with the great Syrah of Yakima. And blending it with Red Willow took the wine to another level. The final blend is 80% Red Willow and 20% Forgotten Hills Phelps Clone.
Flash-forward to the 2014 vintage – wait until you taste Red Willow out of a concrete fermenter. And when we say concrete, we don’t mean eggs. Those are for Easter or omelets. We mean 10,000 lb, 1500 gallon solid rectangular masses of mineral intensity.
This wine was fermented 85% on stems and aged in a mix of older 225L and 500L puncheons for 18 months.
Named after a French/Cajun term meaning roughly “a little something extra,” the 2013 Syrah Lagniappe is a stunning barrel sample that has classic Syrah notes of sappy herbs, spring flowers, pepper and ample darker fruits. Tight, focused, medium to full-bodied and elegant, it’s another 2013 that will benefit from short-term cellaring. I think it’s slightly behind the 2012, but still a gorgeous wine. (93-95 pts Jeb Dunnuck)
Tasting notes: Smoked meat, intense core of red fruit, blueberry, mineral, black olive, pepper. Medium to medium plus bodied. Extremely complex.
Whole Cluster 85%
Red Willow Vineyard
Forgotten Hills Vineyard
Drinking Window: 2017 – 2050
2013 Syrah “Oldfield Vineyard” Columbia Valley Syrah MTA
While Oldfield Vineyard may be a new name to all but the geekiest Washington wine lover, Boushey Vineyard won’t be. Why would be mention Dick Boushey’s legendary vineyard? Because Oldfield Vineyard is contiguous with Boushey and managed by the man himself. While the vineyard is young, it is already proven it will live up to the Boushey pedigree. In the 2013 blending trials, it was a standout. We immediately knew it would be a MTA wine.
One unique aspect of this wine is that it is not made from the Phelps clone, the most widely planted in Washington. This wine is 100% Clone 383, originally from Hermitage in the Northern Rhone. Clone 383 is known for small berries that give an intense and earthy style of Syrah.
The 2013 Oldfield Vineyard Syrah reminds me of a combination of a Red Willow wine and a Walla Walla Rocks wine. It has the freshness and red fruit of Red Willow, but the structure and depth of a Rock wine. It also has funk. It’s less pristine than a Red Willow wine. Red Willow is classical music, Oldfield is blues.
This wine was fermented 100% on stems and aged in a mix of older 225L and 500L puncheons for 18 months.
Tasting notes: Smoked meat, black olive, mineral, Provence herb.
Whole Cluster 100%
Drinking Window: Now – 2050
2013 Mourvèdre L’Idiot du Village Columbia Valley
The 2013 Mourvèdre is potentially better than the 2012. We continue to be blown away by the complexity and intensity of the Mourvèdre from both Olsen and Alder Ridge Vineyards. Each vineyard contributes something different. Olsen is all about freshness and aromatics. Alder Ridge brings depth and structure. The Lídiot du Village is possible our most earth wine in 2013. What is even more fascinating is the speed in which this wine sells out and its quasi cult following.
The 2013 L’Idiot is 90% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah from Alder Ridge and Olsen Vineyards. We fermented this with 30% whole cluster and aged the wine for 20 months in old oak.
A wine that’s seeing a longer elevage in barrel, the 2013 L’Idiot du Village is a stunner, and could possibly eclipse the 2012. It exhibits perfumed notes of spring flowers, blackberry, blueberry and crushed rocks, medium to full-bodied richness, impressive concentration and building tannin that start on the mid-palate and show up nicely on the finish. A complete, balanced Mourvèdre, it will have 10-15 years of longevity. (92-94 pts Jeb Dunnuck)
Tasting notes: Well-cooked pot roast, leather, smoked meat, red flowers, plum, raspberries, currant, sweet cherries. Extreme length.
Whole Cluster 30%
Alder Ridge Vineyard
Drinking Window: Now – 2025
2013 Tempranillo “Gramercy Estate” Walla Walla MTA
As I have said many times, I didn’t wake up one day and think the world needed Walla Walla Tempranillo. In 2006, Pam and I bought a vineyard that has been planted in 1999 to Bordeaux varieties, Syrah and a bit of Tempranillo. Our first thought was to pull it out, but we soon realized it was at home in Walla Walla.
We have ever done a 100% Estate Tempranillo. How is this different than our other Tempranillo? Simply – it is 100% Spanish clone, one that originated in Rioja. Usually, we blend the Tempranillo with the Portuguese close that we get from Les Collines. Secondly, in 2013, we went to a more traditional blend for the regular Tempranillo, adding Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah.
There are two main styles battling in Spain for Tempranillo supremacy – a big robust style that rivals the ripest New World wines and a very elegant earthy style that is similar to Burgundy. Our regular Tempranillo also fell somewhere in the middle. The Estate Tempranillo falls squarely on the red fruit elegant side. If you like Rioja wrapped in a metal net, this is Tempranillo for you.
This wine was fully destemmed and aged for 20 months in 10% New American oak and used American and French Oak.
Tasting Notes: Strawberry, raspberry, currant, green herb, stone. Fresh acidity and elegance. A touch of sweet vanilla from American oak.
JB George Estate Vineyard
Drinking Window: Now – 2030