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Sean P. Sullivan

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Reviewed Wineries

2012 Walla Walla Valley Report Part II

Friday, September 21, 2012

Below is Part II of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from Mackey Vineyards, Tero Estates and Flying Trout, SYZYGY, Trust Cellars, and Bunchgrass Winery. Read Part I here.

Mackey Vineyards

Mackey Vineyards was founded by brothers Roger and Phillip Mackey. The winery has two estate vineyards. The first is Mackey Vineyard, located in the southeastern section of the Walla Walla Valley in a canyon on the south fork of the Walla Walla River. Fruit from this vineyard goes into the winery’s Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon reviewed below. The second is Frenchtown Vineyard near Lowden. Mackey also uses fruit from DuBrul, Sagemoor (Bacchus and Dionysus), Les Collines and other vineyards. The winery has a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards serves as consulting winemaker.

Mackey Vineyards Off-Dry Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $15
(Excellent) An aromatic wine with abundant pear and apple aromas along with a touch of lime. The palate is off-dry with tart green apple flavors and mouthwatering acidity. 100% Riesling. Bacchus and Dionysus vineyards. 11.8% alcohol. 11.6g/L Residual Sugar. 8.3g/L TA. 161 cases produced.

Mackey Vineyards Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $32
(Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with blackberry, black olive juice, mineral, violets, and game. The palate is silky and supple with blackberry and savory flavors and fine grained tannins. Mackey (76.7%), Les Collines (16.7%), and Bacchus (6.6%) vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (40% new). 14.4% alcohol. 123 cases produced.

Mackey Vineyards Merlot Columbia Valley 2009 $36
(Excellent/Exceptional) Leaps up from the glass with abundant aromas of raspberries, red currant, and milk chocolate. The palate has chewy red fruit flavors and plump, ripe tannins. A thoroughly delicious expression of Washington Merlot. 100% Merlot. DuBrul and Dionysus vineyards. Aged 23 months in French oak (70% new). 14.8% alcohol. 165 cases produced.

Mackey Vineyards RAC Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $45
(Excellent) Named after the Mackey’s grandfather Roger Adams Converse, this is a moderately aromatic wine with roasted coffee bean, red currant, pencil lead, cherries, and light herbal notes. The palate is well structured while still retaining a great sense of elegance and vibrancy that is consistently found in the winery’s style. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot. Dionysus (56.4%), Kiona (26.3%), and DuBrul (17.3%) vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (60% new). 14.9% alcohol. 122 cases produced.

Tero Estates and Flying Trout Wines

Tero Estates and Flying Trout are nestled into the southern section of the Walla Walla Valley surrounded by the outrageously scenic Windrow Vineyard. Tero’s latest releases below include a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain Vineyard. Meanwhile winemaker Ashley Trout of Flying Trout, who serves as assistant winemaker at Tero, offers up a single vineyard Malbec from Windrow Vineyard. In addition to the winery facility, both wineries also share a common tasting room attached to the Whitman Hotel in downtown Walla Walla.  

Tero Estates ST Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $38
(Excellent/Exceptional) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with cranberries, raspberries, chocolate, and herbal notes. The palate is full of tart, mouthwatering cranberry and chocolate flavors with a lingering finish. 54% Sangiovese, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon. Mission Hills, Andrews, and Blue Mountain vineyards.  Aged 20 months in French oak (30% new). 14.8% alcohol. 216 cases produced.

Tero Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Vineyard Columbia Valley 2009 $39
(Exceptional) Dark ruby. Locked up tightly right now, this wine opens to reveal mineral notes, black cherry, and tart cranberries. The palate packs a wallop with ripe cherry flavors and chewy tannins – no wimpy wines here! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Red Mountain Vineyard.

Flying Trout Mary’s Block Malbec Windrow Vineyard 2009 $39
(Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine full of blueberry pie, plum, and spice. The palate is tart and filled with lip smacking fruit flavors and a firm structure. 100% Malbec.


SYZYGY is named after a term for the alignment of three celestial bodies. Winemaker Zach Brettler has shown a knack over the years for producing high quality, well-priced Walla Walla Valley Syrah and the 2008 vintage release is no exception. Equally intriguing is the winery’s rare, single vineyard Syrah from Conner Lee Vineyard – a wine club designated release.

SYZYGY Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $24
(Good/Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with a light meaty streak, blueberry, plum, chocolate, and light herbal notes. The palate is tart with the Syrah and the Malbec really popping right now with abundant blueberry and plum flavors and chalky tannins. 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah, 17% Malbec, and 13% Merlot. Conner Lee, Wallula, and Stone Valley vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

SYZYGY Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $33
(Excellent/Exceptional) Dark in color with purple at the rim. A moderately aromatic wine with high toned notes of violets, blueberries, game, and milk chocolate. The palate is perfumed and plush with blue fruit flavors and soft, grainy tannins. Les Collines, Morrison Lane, and Seven Hills vineyards. Aged 19 months in neutral French oak. 15.2% alcohol. 430 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

SYZYGY Syrah Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $NA
(Excellent) A dark, glass staining wine with a purple rim. Aromatically locked up at present with high toned aromas of blue fruit, licorice, and chocolate. The palate is medium-plus bodied full of brambly fruit and coffee bean flavors with chalky tannins. 100% Syrah. 14.8% alcohol.

Trust Cellars

Since the winery’s founding, Trust Cellars has made its mark by offering soft, understated wines with limited use of new French oak. The winery’s current releases continue this trend. The standout here is the 2009 Walla Walla Valley Syrah, which offers an elegant, restrained interpretation of the grape.

Trust Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $28
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant raspberries, violets, and light smoked meat. The palate is perfumed with floral notes and chocolate flavors accented by soft tannins. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in French oak (20% new).

Trust Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2008 $28
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with bright raspberry aromas, smoked meat and cherries. The palate is light bodied, full of tart fruit flavors. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in French oak (25% new).

Trust Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $36
(Good) An aromatic wine with abundant red cherries, high toned herbal notes, and ground cranberries. The palate is soft and light bodied with an elegant styling. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Aged 16 months in French oak (40% new).

Bunchgrass Winery

Bunchgrass Winery was founded by Roger Cockerline in 1997. Over the years, the winery has focused on extremely limited production wines - and it continues to with an annual production of merely 600 cases. Two of Cockerline’s friends, Tom Olander and Barb Commare, recently began carrying the torch at the winery. The 2006 to 2008 vintage wines were made by William VonMetzger of Walla Walla Vintners. Starting with the 2009 vintage, Tom Olander has assumed the position of winemaker. 

Bunchgrass Winery Whispering Owl White Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $24
(Excellent) This is the inaugural vintage of this white from Bunchgrass winery which is half Semillon and half Sauvignon Blanc. It’s moderately aromatic with citrus and spice aromas. The palate is tart and full of abundant grapefruit and other citrus flavors with a drawn out feel. 50% Semillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented and aged in oak and stainless steel. 22 cases produced.

Bunchgrass Winery Founder’s Blend Walla Walla Valley 2009 $28
(Good) Pale ruby. An aromatic wine  - two thirds Cabernet Franc and one third Malbec with a splash of Malbec - with abundant toasty spices, coffee bean, and light herbal notes. The palate is silky and soft with cherry and chocolate flavors with a textured mouthfeel. 66% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, and 1% Malbec. Dwelley, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, and Frazier Bluff vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (40% new). 14.4% alcohol. 68 cases produced.

Bunchgrass Winery Malbec Walla Walla Valley 2009 $32
(Excellent) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with abundant blueberry, plum and peppery spice. The palate is full bodied, loaded with rich fruit flavors with a chocolaty finish. 100% Malbec. Frazier Bluff Vineyard. Aged 22 months in French oak (25% new). 14.5% alcohol. 44 cases produced.

Bunchgrass Winery Triolet Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2009 $28
(Excellent) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with abundant toasty oak spices, floral notes, herbal notes, and cherry. The palate is silky and soft with abundant chocolate and cherry flavors capped off by a long finish. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. 14.5% alcohol. 200 cases produced.

Bunchgrass Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $42
(Excellent) An aromatic wine with abundant ripe cherry aromas along with herbal notes, raspberries, milk chocolate, and toasty oak spices. The palate is full of ripe fruit flavors and plush tannins. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Windrow (80%) and Tokar vineyards. 14.3% alcohol.

Rating System

Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.

(Not recommended/Flawed)

Readers, please note that Blogger, where this site is hosted, has upgraded to a new version which has significant bugs and formatting issues. There are, at present, no work arounds, so you may see significant formatting errors within the posts.  

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  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Just curious, how did the Tero 2009 cab compare to the 2007 Tero cab from Windrow (assuming you have tasted it)?

  3. Roger Says:
  4. Nice report. Looking forward to Part III. I've liked nearly every SYZYGY wine I've tried, but those labels! They are so planetarium. Then again, I guess most don't have a problem putting a bottle with a cartoon frog or pig on their table.


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