Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Vinyl Wines, Mannina Cellars, Long Shadows, and Woodhouse Wine Estates.
Vinyl Wines is a unique project from winemaker Chip McLaughlin and Spencer Richards. The winery aims to bridge the gap between McLaughlin’s two passions – wine and music.
McLaughlin was introduced to the world of wine by his brother Erik. Erik has a long history in the wine industry, from a corporate wine buyer for Cost Plus, to restaurant owner, and most recently as Director of Wineries for Corliss Estates. “There were always a lot of bottles to open and try,” McLaughlin says.
McLaughlin also grew up around music, with his father a program director and on-air personality in Boise, Idaho, McLaughlin’s home town. In fact, McLaughlin’s birth announcement was a picture from the hospital on a vinyl record. True to these roots, McLaughlin plays guitar and piano.
It wasn’t until he moved to Walla Walla in 2009 that McLaughlin became serious about making wine. “I fell in love with Walla Walla the first time I went up there,” he says. McLaughlin started out making wine almost straight off, learning through “osmosis” from working with a number of the area’s winemakers.
These are Vinyl Wines’ inaugural releases. The first is the R3 , standing for Rick Ross Rosé – a hip hop artist who frequently raps about this much maligned wine. The EQ Grenache has a double meaning, both standing for equalization and the initials of one of McLaughlin’s best friend’s daughters. This is a seldom seen Walla Walla Valley designated bottle.
Each of the Vinyl wines has a code on the side of the cork. Using the code people can go to the winery’s website and download a playlist of songs from unsigned bands McLaughlin is interested in. Each bottle also has a short piece of music notation along the side, with the Grenache sporting the guitar lead to “Artist and the Ambulance” by Thrice.
Vinyl Wines made 110 cases in 2010.
Vinyl Wines R3 Rosé Columbia Valley 2010 $15
Rating: + (Good) Bright pink colored. An aromatic wine with cherries, strawberry, and other red fruit along with bubble gum notes. Palate brings more fruit flavors than are often seen in rose along with well balanced by acidity with just a suggestion of Residual Sugar (0.4) that carries the wine across the palate to the finish. Alcohol shows through at times. 13.3% alcohol. 91 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Vinyl Wines ‘EQ’ Grenache Walla Walla Valley 2009 $25
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Light in color. Delicate aromas of tea leaves, cranberries, red berries, and orange peel. The palate is delicate and light-bodied but with a full, fleshy feel with abundant cranberry flavors. 100% Grenache. Cockburn Ranch. Aged in second fill French oak. 13.6% alcohol. 25 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Mannina Cellars’ winemaker Don Redman was working as a police officer in Los Angeles when he decided it was time for a change. “I decided whatever I could put in the back of my truck, that was what I was moving to Washington,” Redman says.
Redman started out working at a pulp mill in Bellingham before an opportunity at Boise Cascade brought him to Walla Walla in 2001. Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellar came over for dinner one night and brought a bottle of his wine. For Redman, it was a revelation. “I was like, wow! That’s different,” he says.
Redman started out as a home winemaker in 2002 before renting space from Richard Funk at Saviah Cellars to make his first commercial wine. He named the winery Mannina Cellars after his mother, Roseanne Mannina, who emigrated from Sicily in 1942.
Mannina Cellars is located in the airport region of Walla Walla. Redman did his own work on the building including plumbing and painting to help keep prices down. “My wife and I just want to make a living,” he says. Redman also keeps the Mannina Cellars wines at very affordable prices, saying, “Right out of the shoot to price my wines high? Who the hell am I?”
While Redman initially sourced grapes from throughout Washington, he now uses fruit exclusively from Walla Walla. “I want to be a Walla Walla winery,” Redman says.
Redman planted a 29-acre vineyard out by Birch Creek two years ago. “I work it. I farm it. I do everything,” he says. While many have visions of what it would be like to work in a vineyard, Redman says with a laugh, “If it was one acre it would be romantic…”
All of the Mannina Cellars wines are well made, low oak and low alcohol wines with abundant tart fruit flavors. Far from cocktails, these wines need food to show their best.
Mannina Cellars produces 2,700 cases annually.
Mannina Cellars Sangiovese Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $22
Rating: + (Good) Dark in color. A lightly aromatic wine with high toned herbal notes, raspberries, and strawberries. Light bodied, tart and acidic on the palate. Drops off toward the finish. 92% Sangiovese, 8% Merlot. Aged 13 months in neutral French and Hungarian oak. 14.1% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Mannina Cellars RoseAnne’s Red Walla Walla Valley 2008 $20
Rating: . (Decent) A pretty, lightly aromatic wine with herbal notes, red cherries, and light wood spices. Very tart on the palate with sour cherry flavors. 55% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. Golden Ridge and Birch Creek vineyards. 13.8% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Mannina Cellars Merlot Birch Creek Vineyards Walla Walla Valley 2008 $24
Rating: ./+ (Decent/Good) A lightly aromatic wine with sweet spices, vanilla, herbal notes, and high toned cherries. Tart on the palate with zippy acidity and grainy tannins. 91% Merlot. 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.7% alcohol. 135 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Mannina Cellars Cali Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $17
Rating: + (Good) A lightly aromatic wine with red cherries, herbal notes, green notes, and kisses of black licorice. Tart and puckering on the palate with mocha flavors and an acidic kick. 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, and 4% Sangiovese. Birch Creek, Pepper Bridge, Les Collines, and Seven Hills vineyards. 13.8% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Mannina Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Birch Creek Vineyards Walla Walla Valley 2008 $30
Rating: . (Decent) A lightly aromatic wine with herbal notes, green notes, and cherries. A fresh, clean wine with abundant, puckering cherry flavors on the palate. 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot. 13.9% alcohol. 92 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
At Long Shadows former Stimson Lane CEO Allen Shoup pairs top winemakers from around the world with fruit from some of Washington’s best vineyards. Here acclaimed Napa Valley winemaker Randy Dunn gives his interpretation of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. As with the 2007 vintage listed below, this is always an intriguing bottle, showing more of the grape’s elegance and sophistication than its sheer power that is often on display.
Long Shadows Feather Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $55
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with dried cranberries, raspberries, very light herbal notes, scorched earth, and peppery spices. The palate is full of concentrated fruit flavors, lush but far from over the top, with grainy tannins. A very pretty expression of Cabernet Sauvignon that will only improve with time in the cellar. Give one to two years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 22 months in French oak (90% new). 14.2% alcohol. 1,991 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Kennedy Shah is a label for Woodhouse Wine Estates, which also includes Dussek, Darighe, Hudson Shah, and Maghee. Jean Claude Beck, whose familial winemaking roots date back to 1579, serves as winemaker here. The Kennedy Shah Reserve from DuBrul Vineyard is a rare bottle of vineyard-designated Riesling from this esteemed vineyard.
Kennedy Shah Reserve Riesling DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $25
Rating: . (Decent) A lightly aromatic wine with pear and lemon notes. Tart on the palate with a somewhat fat feel with abundant pear, lemon, and lime notes. Alcohol bleeds through at times. 100% Riesling. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 14.3% alcohol. 124 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
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