One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get my samples pile under control. I am still woefully behind, but I am making progress (at least that is what I keep telling myself). This week, I focus on a few wines from the Pacific Northwest.
2018 10000 Hours Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, WA: Retail $35. Big Ass Bottle. 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot. 18 months in 85% New American Oak. The Aquilini family is changing the status quo on Red Mountain. A few years ago, they shocked the local community by purchasing, essentially, every last available acre in the tiny appellation (670 acres in total). While that ruffled a few feathers (there were several groups trying to pool their cash together to buy different parcels within that 670 acres). This is (as far as I can tell) the eighth brand from the Aquilini’s extensive purchases in the Columbia Valley (the 670 acres on Red Mountain are just a fraction of their recent acquisitions). This wine? Yes. Finally. And close to a whoa. Plum, blackberry, cassis, black pepper, vanilla, I could go on about the nose, but that would be pretentious (and I avoid pretention at [almost] all costs). The palate is rich and layered, unctuous, delicious, and balanced. Yeah, I dig this wine. While, like the red blend, this might need a bit more time (there are some chunky tannins on the finish), it is fantastic now and more than worthy of the tariff. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 Luke Wines Red Blend, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $22. Big Ass Bottle. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Syrah. A serviceable blend from the Wahluke Slope, in the Columbia Valley, Washington. Dark in the glass with plenty of fruit both on the nose and the palate, but I have to say it comes off as a bit extracted. There is no doubt that there is an audience for this wine that will find it quite appealing. Very Good. 88 Points.
2018 Luke Wines Merlot, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. 100% Merlot. Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA. This is my second wine from the brand and it has similarities with the first: fruity and a bit extracted on the nose with some earth and depth. The palate is quite approachable and fruity with some nice acidity and just a hint of intrigue. Again, not my style, but another crowd-pleaser. Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Luke Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $25. Big Ass Bottle. 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. Fairly dark in the glass (thanks in part to the Malbec and the Petit Verdot), with rich red, blue, and blackberry fruit on the nose. Throw in some vanilla, Christmas spice, and just a hint of black pepper, and there we are. The palate, like the other Luke wines, has a focus on the fruit, but there is a little something extra here, even a je ne sais quoi that is quite compelling. Nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Grenache Glou-Glou Cowhorn Vineyard, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. 100% Grenache. Carbonic maceration. The list of great things that are going on at Troon these days is a long one and somewhere in the middle has to be this wine. Using techniques that have been in practice for some time in Beaujolais, this Glou-Glou is exactly what the name would imply, a fruity quaff that is fun to drink and goes down exceedingly easy. Bright cherry fruit along with the characteristic grape and bubblegum flavors that often come with the process, and a tartness that lasts well beyond the last swallow. Very Good. 89 Points.
2019 Troon Vineyard Vermentino, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $25. Under Diam 5. Estate Vineyard, Kubli Bench. 100% Vermentino. I have tasted through several vintages of Troon’s Vermentino and this is, without much equivocation, the best iteration I have tried thus far. It is also the first Troon I have tasted here in Houston since my visit to the winery this past summer. While this might sound cliché or even worse, biased, after visiting the magical spot in Southern Oregon and understanding what Troon is doing with and to the vineyard (converting to 100% biodynamic, replanting the entire vineyard, too much to enumerate here), this wine is not only outstanding but on the verge of transformational. While that might sound over-the-top (and I admit, it is), this wine is truly fantastic. Tropical fruit, minerality, depth, and brilliant acidity, this is a memorable and lovely wine. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2020 Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Amber, Applegate Valley, OR: Retail $35. 64% Riesling, 27% Vermentino, 9% Viognier. It would be difficult to choose a “favorite” in the Troon lineup, but this is clearly near the top. A great golden color with tropical notes and, yes, orange peel. The palate is unctuous and rich with considerable body and an incredibly lengthy finish. Whoa. While the 2019 vintage was fantastic, this is a slight step-up. The reason? The new (2017) ownership at Troon has invested incredible amounts of time, effort, and financial resources to transform the farm into perhaps the model for biodynamic farming and sustainable agriculture. With only 50 acres planted, the production by almost any standard is small, but the wines are across the board fantastic, with this beauty near the top. Outstanding. 94 Points.
Totally agree about that Troon Vermentino! It’s so damn good! A fav of mine 🙂
Also, HI!! Hope you’re doing well!!
Mary Cressler (she/her) | Author
Co-Owner Ember and Vine Catering & Events
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