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Fresh Sheet May 9th 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Mark Ryan WinerySleight of Hand CellarsConvergence Zone CellarsKevin White WineryMosquito Fleet WineryWind Rose CellarsKerloo CellarsJB Neufeld, and Tranche Cellars.



Mark Ryan Winery

If there’s one constant at Mark Ryan Winery, it’s change. When I visited with founder Mark McNeilly and winemaker Mike Macmorran recently, numerous changes were afoot, from moving the winery’s tasting room across the street (and opening a new tasting room for Boardtrack Racer in the old space) to expanding the winery’s production and planning for a new winemaking facility.

“We’re not just thinking about next year. We’re thinking about the next ten years,” McNeilly says. Between its Mark Ryan and Boardtrack Racer brands, the winery grew by almost 40% in 2012. With 24 acres of grape vines coming on line next year, some of which will be used at the winery and some sold, it was time to think about a new production facility.

“It’s different going in and having things built to our specifications. I think it will help us make better wine,” Macmorran says, adding, “As we grow both labels, it’s still with quality in mind, not quantity.” McNeilly agrees saying, “We’re still doing everything by hand. You have a very intimate relationship when you’re punching down 75 fermenters!”

The cool, 2010 vintage was challenging to many growers and winemakers across the Pacific Northwest. For Macmorran, it was no different. “It was way harder in terms of overall effort,” he says. “I got a lot grayer in 2010! The challenge was to try to make sure what we got was ripe but not overripe and keep them in balance.” He also notes that the change in vintage conditions led him to use some different approaches at the winery. “The thing in 2010 was being very, very careful with oak,” Macmorran says. “Too much oak, especially with the Rhone varieties, you’ll lose that typicity.”

While Macmorran may have a few more gray hairs from the challenging vintage, the results for Mark Ryan Winery from the 2010 vintage are nothing short of astounding, the winery’s best to date. There is incredible vibrancy in the aromas and flavors as well as delineation between all of the varieties in the blends. These are nothing short of exhilarating wines, each worthy of a spot in the cellar and, as always, built to last. To wit, the Dead Horse was still sailing along a week after it was opened.

Macmorran believes that part of what has improved the wines is the blending process. “We blend later and later every year,” he says. “It gives us a better opportunity to see where the wines are at.” Whatever the cause, these are wines to seek out and are among my favorites from the 2010 vintage.

Read previous posts on Mark Ryan Winery here. Picture above by Richard Duval.

Mark Ryan Winery Viognier Columbia Valley 2011 $28
 (Excellent) An uber aromatic wine with pear, apple, peach, and mineral notes. The palate has a real sense of freshness with a lemony crispness and a tart finish. Has a lot of texture and viscosity while still retaining its elegance. 100% Viognier. Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow, and Olsen vineyards. Aged 8 months in neutral French oak (94%) and stainless steel. 14.2% alcohol. 350 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Winery Lost Soul Syrah Yakima Valley 2010 $48
 (Exceptional) Completely opaque. An aromatically complex and expressive wine with iron, huckleberry, herbs, currant, bacon, and earth. The palate is satiny, textured, and dense with seamless fruit and earth flavors that draw out and lead to a lingering finish. A gorgeous wine that you can just sit and smell and be completely satisfied. 100% Syrah. Les Vignes de Marcoux Vineyard. Aged 20 months in French oak (33% new). 14.9% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Winery Wild Eyed Syrah Red Mountain 2010 $48
 (Excellent/Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with mineral, blackberry, blueberry, and bittersweet chocolate. The palate is densely packed with dark fruit and chocolate flavors will retaining a supple feel. High on the delicious scale. 100% Syrah. Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (45% new). 14.9% alcohol. 275 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Crazy Mary Mourvedre Red Mountain 2010 $48
 (Excellent) Dark in color. A dark, brooding wine with graphite, violets, dark cherries, chocolate, white pepper, and wood spices. The palate is opulent and full with cherry flavors and firm tannins. 86% Mourvedre, 14% Syrah. Ciel du Cheval and Red Willow vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak puncheons (59% new). 15.1% alcohol. 175 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Winery The Dissident Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $32
 (Excellent/Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with raspberry, black currant, earth, floral notes, mineral notes, and spice. The palate has a beautiful texture, richness, and suppleness combining power and elegance. Way over delivers for the quality that is in the bottle. 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Obelisco, Kiona, and Force Majeure vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (47% new). 14.6% alcohol. 1,900 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Long Haul Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $48
 (Exceptional) Aromatically vibrant with currant, earth, floral notes, and chocolate. The palate is perfumed and rich with dark fruit and chocolate flavors with firm but well integrated tannins. A drop dead gorgeous wine with a long life ahead of it if you can keep your hands off it. 61% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec, and 2% Petit Verdot. Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow, and Force Majeure vineyards. Aged 21 months in French oak (72% new). 14.8% alcohol. 1,100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Winery Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2010 $52
 (Excellent/Exceptional) Dark in color. Aromatically brooding and locked up with dark fruit, cassis, floral notes, blackberries, and spice. The palate is incredibly rich and textured with great density and depth and firm tannins that still need some time to fully stretch their legs. Give two plus years or a long decant. 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec, and 2% Petit Verdot. Ciel du Cheval, Obelisco, Red Willow, Kiona, and Force Majeure vineyards. Aged 21 months in French oak (78% new). 14.9% alcohol. 1,175 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mark Ryan Winery Lonely Heart Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2010 $80
 (Exceptional) Closed up at present with blackberry, black currant, earth, and oak spices. The palate is richly concentrated with dense fruit and chocolate flavors with firm but beautifully integrated tannins. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, Obelisco, and Red Willow vineyards. Aged 21 months in French oak (81% new). 14.9% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Sleight of Hand Cellars

The latest releases from Sleight of Hand Cellars include a new Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy Bordeaux-style blend, The Conjurer from the 2011 vintage. Fruit for the wine comes from Blackrock and Blue Mountain vineyards. The 2010 wines from winemaker Trey Busch provide much of what there is to love about this vintage – purity of fruit flavors with a compelling, textured mouthfeel.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Magician’s Assistant Cabernet Franc Rose Blackrock Vineyard Yakima Valley 2012 $18
 (Good) Pale copper with a slight pink tinge. It’s moderately aromatic with spice and strawberry. The palate is medium bodied with a rounded feel and tart cherry flavors. 100% Cabernet Franc. Blackrock Vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel and barrel aged for five months in neutral French oak. 13.5% alcohol. 0.19% Residual Sugar. 225 cases produced.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Enchantress Chardonnay French Creek Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $28
 (Good) Appealing aromas of toasty spices, citrus, stone fruit, and hibiscus. It’s on the lighter side of medium bodied with a textured feel. 100% Chardonnay. Full malolactic fermentation. Aged 11 months in neutral French oak. 199 cases produced.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Spellbinder Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $19
 (Good) The first time this wine has been Merlot dominant, it’s aromatic with blue fruit, herbal notes, menthol, and cherry meats. The palate is light in style with fresh fruit flavors. 50% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, 9% Syrah, and 2% Sangiovese. Aged 11 months in neutral oak. 13.8% alcohol.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Conjurer Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $28
 (Good) A moderately aromatic wine with pretty aromas of oak spices, cherry, licorice, and blueberries. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied and fresh in feel with grainy tannins. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc. Blue Mountain and Blackrock vineyards. Aged 14 months in French oak (26% new). 470 cases produced.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Archimage Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $52
 (Excellent) An aromatically fascinating wine with oak spices, brooding cherry notes, fresh herbs, chocolate, floral notes, and mineral. It has a beautiful mouthfeel and texture with a mixture of blue and red fruits, supple tannins, and an airy, extended finish. 45% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot. Blue Mountain, Red Mountain, and Va Piano vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (50% new). 15.1% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Sleight of Hand Cellars The Illusionist Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2010 $52
 (Excellent) Appealing aromas of toasty spices meld with high toned herbal notes and cherry. The palate is light and airy, graceful in style with a compelling mouthfeel and a long, long finish. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Red Mountain, Blue Mountain, Phinny Hill, Bacchus, and Scooteney Flats vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (60% new). 14.8% alcohol. 450 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Sleight of Hand Cellars Levitation Syrah Columbia Valley 2010 $42
 (Excellent) A dark, glass staining wine with earthy funk, mineral notes, violets, chocolate, and pure cherry cola notes. It’s light in texture but with good intensity of flavors and complexity. 100% Syrah. Lewis, Les Collines, and Funk Estate vineyards. Aged 13 months in French oak (20% new). 14.8% alcohol.


Convergence Zone Cellars

Woodinville’s Convergence Zone Cellars is quietly making a name for itself with high quality, well priced red blends from Red Mountain. The 2010 wines sampled below only continue that trend. At first blush, indeed even at second blush, both the Storm Front and Squall Line can seem somewhat tart but after a few days, they settle down and positively sing.

Convergence Zone Cellars Dewpoint Riesling Bacchus Vineyard Columbia Valley 2012 $17
 (Decent/Good) A very aromatically unique Riesling with lychee, pink grapefruit, and peach. Tingles the palate with medium bodied fruit flavors with the residual sugar (0.9%) adding a touch of sweetness to the finish. 100% Riesling. 12.3% alcohol. 0.9% Residual Sugar. 183 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Convergence Zone Cellars Drizzle Pinot Gris Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2012 $19
 (Good) Moderately aromatic with yellow apple, pear, and mineral notes. The palate is medium sweet with a drawn out finish. 100% Pinot Gris. 10.7% alcohol. 3% Residual Sugar. Sample provided by winery.

Convergence Zone Cellars Storm Front Red Mountain 2010 $28
 (Excellent) Far better on day three than when popped and poured, it’s moderately aromatic with notes of mocha, raspberry, herbs, nuts, and cranberry. The palate has quite tart fruit flavors and firm tannins with cranberry-like acidity and wood flavors on the finish. Needs some additional time in the bottle to show its best but will be worth the wait. Give one to two years or a long decant. 43% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 19% Malbec. E&E Shaw, Bel Villa, and Hedges vineyards. 14.1% alcohol. 120 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Convergence Zone Cellars Squall Line Red Mountain 2010 $28
 (Excellent) Aromatically locked up with dark cherry, cedar, herbs, and wood spice. The palate has tart cherry flavors, a textured mouthfeel, and firm, slightly dry tannins and a wood spice filled finish. Give two years or an extended decant. 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Merlot. E&E Shaw and Bel Villa vineyards. Aged in French oak (25% new). 14.4% alcohol. 95 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Kevin White Winery

Watch out wine world. Here comes Kevin White Winery. Winemaker Kevin White made a strong impression with his equal parts promise and delivery inaugural release. His second vintage takes a large leap forward while keeping the wines ridiculously under priced for the quality.

“This is why I keep working at Microsoft,” White says sardonically of his prices. He says of his approach to the winery, “Get good fruit, get good mentors, have a good price point, and get a distributor!” In terms of the latter, White has selected Unique Wines. He says of winemaking, “You learn patience. I just have to apply that to my kids now.”

Read previous posts about Kevin White Winery here.

Kevin White Winery La Fraternité Red Wine Yakima Valley 2011 $20
 (Excellent) An aromatic wine with bright, fresh boysenberry, white pepper, red fruit, and moist earth. The palate is fresh, pure and sensuous with a layered, textured feel. An absolutely outstanding wine with great purity and a complete steal at this price. 42% Grenache (Upland), 42% Mourvedre (Olsen) and 16% Syrah (Olsen). Upland and Olsen vineyards. Aged 12 months in neutral French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 172 cases produced.

Kevin White Winery En Hommage Red Wine Yakima Valley 2011 $25
 (Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatic wine with a medley of red and blue fruit, a touch of orange peel, light meaty notes, and coffee tones. The palate is medium bodied, dense and pure with sinewy fruit flavors and an extended finish. A level of quality rarely seen at this price. 50% Syrah (Olsen), 50% Grenache (Upland). Olsen and Upland vineyards. 14.4% alcohol. 118 cases produced.


Mosquito Fleet Winery

Named after the original steamboat ferries that buzzed around the Puget Sound, Mosquito Fleet Winery was founded by Dr. Brian and Jacquie Petersen and Scott and Jacy Griffin. With its latest releases, the winery has navigated the cool 2010 vintage well, producing another set of impressive wines. This will be a winery to watch.

Read previous posts about Mosquito Fleet Winery here.

Mosquito Fleet Winery SS Crest Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2010 $29
 (Good/Excellent) Locked but aromatically but opens to reveal black cherry, mocha, light herbs, and freshly hewn wood. It has concentrated cherry flavors, tart acids, and firm, chalky tannins with a cranberry like finish. Needs more time to fully come into its own. 100% Cabernet Franc. Hattrup Farms. Aged in American (83) and French oak (17% new). 13.8% alcohol. 76 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mosquito Fleet Winery SS Dauntless Meritage Columbia Valley 2010 $34
 (Good/Excellent) Locked up aromatically with notes of toast, mocha, cherry, cranberry, and cedar. The palate has tightly wound, somewhat dry tannins and plump cherry flavors. Not showing its best right now but should blossom with some additional time in the bottle. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Double Canyon, Marcoux, and Elephant Mountain vineyards. Aged 22 months in French and American (17%) oak. 13.7% alcohol. 89 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mosquito Fleet Winery SS Dix Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2010 $39
 (Good) The aromas are faint with coffee bean, cedar, herbs, mocha, and oak spices. The palate is medium bodied with firm, dry tannins and tart acid. An understated wine that you shouldn’t even really think about opening for a few years. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. Pepper Bridge, Double Canyon, and Hattrup Farms vineyards. 13.7% alcohol. 90 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mosquito Fleet Winery SS Sophia Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $29
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with roasted coffee bean, cedar, mocha, citrus, and cherry. The palate is full bodied with tart cherry flavors and chalky, dry tannins. Make sure to give it some time to open up. 73% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hattrup Farms and Double Canyon vineyards. Aged 22 months in French (73%) and American oak (51% new). 15% alcohol. 250 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mosquito Fleet Winery SS Fortuna Petit Verdot Columbia Valley 2010 $32
 (Excellent) Lightly aromatic with garden soil, cherry, oak spices, light green notes, lemon peel, and violets. The palate packs a wallop with cherry flavors and brawny, slightly dry tannins and bright acid. 88% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Mourvedre, and 3% Merlot. Double Canyon and Hattrup Farms vineyards. Aged in American (64%) and French oak (36% new). 13.9% alcohol. 68 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Wind Rose Cellars

Unlike most Washington wineries that focus on grape varieties made famous in France, Sequim-based Wind Rose Cellars chooses instead to look toward the Italian varieties. Read previous posts about the winery here.

Wind Rose Cellars Pinot Grigio Dry White Table Wine Yakima Valley 2012 $15
(Decent) Moderately aromatic with ripe red apple, citrus, and mineral notes. The palate is dry with a broad feel. 100% Pinot Gris. Aged in stainless steel (66%) and oak with one third malolactic fermentation. 13% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Wind Rose Cellars Rosato Dry Rose Wine Washington State 2012 $15
(Decent) Medium salmon in color with rose petal, watermelon, bubblegum, and some reductive notes. The palate is medium-plus bodied with plump fruit flavors. 51% Nebbiolo, 18% Dolcetto, 17% Primitivo, and 14% Barbera. 13.2% alcohol. 120 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Wind Rose Cellars Dolcetto Red Table Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $19
 (Decent/Good) Moderately aromatic with bright cherry and herbs. It’s medium bodied with tart flavors, dry tannins, and no apparent oak influence. 80% Dolcetto and 20% Barbera. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.9% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Wind Rose Cellars Bravo Rosso Red Table Wine Washington State 2010 $20
(Decent/Good) Lightly aromatic with herbs and dark cherry and volatile notes that are just in check. The palate is medium-plus bodied with tart plum flavors. 61% Barbera, 23% Dolcetto, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Nebbiolo. 13.5% alcohol. 120 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Onesies

Kerloo Cellars Majestic Columbia Valley 2011 $26
 (Excellent) Draws you into the glass with plum, white pepper, smoke, and orange peel on an aromatically complex wine. The palate is soft, delicate, textured and lightly structured. The concentration isn’t as much as some might want but those who enjoy a more elegant style will swoon. Make sure to give it some time to open up. 46% Grenache (Upland), 27% Syrah (18% Blue Mountain Block 8, 9% Boushey Vineyard), 27% Mourvedre (18% Alder Ridge, 9% Upland). 13.8% alcohol. 253 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

JB Neufeld Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley 2010 $34
(Good/Excellent) For the cool 2010 vintage, winemaker Justin Neufeld has combined his two single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons into one, using DuBrul Vineyard’s elegance to off-set Artz’ power. It’s aromatically locked up at present with mineral, earth, toast, dried herbs, and cherry. The palate is medium bodied with cherry flavors, firm, dry tannins, and tart acids. Give one to two years or a long decant. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Artz and DuBrul vineyards. Aged in French oak (71% new). 420 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Tranche Cellars Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2011 $18
 (Excellent) Sourced from the Royal Slope, this is a moderately aromatic Pinot Gris with melon, red apple slices, straw, oak spices, and pear. The palate is rich, textured, and drawn out with the alcohol providing just a bit of distraction from what is otherwise a magnificent wine. 100% Pinot Gris. Aged 8 months in neutral French oak. 14.3% alcohol. 236 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

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