Spring Release 2015

2014 Rose “Olsen Vineyard” Columbia Valley Cinsault/Grenache/Syrah

As many know, we came to Rose via a back channel.  Our original intention for Cinsault was for a blending component for the Third Man Grenache.  However, after experiencing a profound bottle of Rose from Provence, we wondered if Washington could make a similar statement?  We think Washington does, especially at Olsen Vineyard.  Lief Olsen is gaining quite a reputation for farming Rhone varieties.  The Rose shows both minerality, from the Cinsault, and a blend of light red fruit , spice and flowers, primarily from Grenache.  Syrah gives the wine lift and complexity.  The wine was macerated for 6 hours on the skins, then co-fermented for 14 days. The perfect, but serious, summer wine.

Our new babies. Wow, we love them so much.

Our new babies. Wow, we love them so much.

2014 Viognier Columbia Valley

Like the Rose, we never truly set out to make Viognier.  In 2010, we received a call from a great friend and sommelier from Washington.  He told us that his family was farming some Viognier in Lake Chelan.  While we were at first cautious, upon receipt of the first fruit we quickly asked for a long tern contract.  The fruit from this vineyard, Antoine Creek, brings searing acid and minerality, which is frequently absent from many New World Viogniers.  In 2014, we added a bit of Viognier from a vineyard in the Rocks District of Walla Walla. While we find that Viognier alone from this area can lack acidity, as a blending component, it is utterly brilliant.  The fruit profile is like Thomas Keller doing an Ode to Fruit Loops at The French Laundry. The final blend brings the best of the new and old worlds together – mineralogy, stone an tropical fruit,  richness, while still being fresh and alive.

2012 Syrah “Lagniappe” Columbia Valley

It all came together in 2012 for our Lagniappe Cuvee. A perfect vintage and world class fruit. (Read below to see who joined the party in 2012.) We continued to be amazed at Red Willow. It is simply world class. In terms of style, its more Hermitage, with Les Collines being more Cornas like. The fruit is brighter, crisper, more red focused. This is what Jeb Dunnuck had to say about the wine:

“A wine that blew me away, the 2012 Syrah Lagniappe is blockbuster stuff that needs to be tasted to be believed. Medium to full-bodied, tight, concentrated and focused, it offers thrilling Syrah character with notions of pepper, mineral, earth and pure blackberry styled fruit. Given the purity of fruit and high-quality tannin, it should be relatively accessible on release, yet benefit from 2-3 years of cellaring and have two decades or so of longevity.“ Jeb Dunnuck The Wine Advocate (95-97)

If you remember, in 2011, we blended Red Willow with SJR in the rocks area of Walla Walla and Olsen near Benton City. In 2012, we stayed very near Yakima and the Red Willow Vineyard, blending in with equal parts of Oldfield and Minick. Minick is a workhorse vineyard for us, bringing freshness and acidity. Oldfield is a new name, but the pedigree fantastic. Oldfield is a five-acre vineyard owned by Efeste Winery. However, the magic of the vineyard is that it is contiguous with the famed Boushey Vineyard and managed by the man himself. While only a few years old, this will soon be a very famous Washington Syrah Vineyard.

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 rectangular solid masses of mineral intensity.

This wine was fermented 80% on stems and aged in a mix of older 225L and 500L puncheons for 18 months. 576 cases.

Drinking window: Wait a year to open, best in 5, up to 15

2012 Tempranillo “Inigo Montoya” Columbia Valley

I’m going to be straightforward about the 2012 Tempranillo. It’s better than the 2008 Tempranillo. Remember, the one we re-released last year? I think the 2012 is a bit more intense. We have been working very hard with Tempranillo, particularity with our estate blocks. Each year, our estate block gets better and better. In fact, in full disclosure, after the 2014 vintage, we will be fully estate grown with this wine. Our estate block has some of the only Spanish clone Tempranillo in the valley, and we want to go that direction. And instead of making 600-700 cases, we will make about 200. But we feel the wine at that point will be even better. We will start to move towards that goal in 2013, when we will have a 2013 Estate Tempranillo MTA wine.

From Jeb Dunnuck:

“Incorporating 15% Syrah, and aged 23 months in 11% new French oak, the 2012 Tempranillo Inigo Montoya shows classic Tempranillo character with its spice, vanilla, cedar and white pepper aromas and flavors that are all supported by a core of black and red fruits. Gaining additional meatiness with air, this medium to full-bodied, pure and layered effort has juicy acidity, fine tannin and superb length. Give it a few years once released, and drink over the following decade or more.” Jeb Dunnuck The Wine Advocate (92-94)

The 2012 Tempranillo is a reversal from the 2010 and 2011. Those vintages took a while to open and be generous. In 2012, we picked later. The wine is much more drinkable now. It’s a more full-bodied wine – ripe, but still has balanced acidity. It’s more Ribera that Rioja, more Jorge Ordonez than Steve Metzler. It’s hedonistic and a guilty indulgence without being gross. And best of all, besides maybe a bit of oak showing through, it’s ready to drink. The blend of the 2012 Tempranillo is reminiscent of the 2006, heavy on Syrah. It is 85% Tempranillo and 15% Syrah, aged in 2 – 7-year American oak barrels.

Drinking window: Drinkable at release. Will be best in 5 years and continue to improve for 10-15 years.