Washington Wine Club – December 2008

2006 Mark Ryan Winery Water Witch
Mark McNeely needs no introduction to Washington wine fans. In addition to being one of Washington’s top winemakers, Mark has lately been acclaimed as “the Godfather of the Hood,” for his work in mentoring the many young winemakers in the industrial park area of Woodinville (called “Hoodinville” to distinguish it from the upscale digs of Chateau Ste. Michelle.) The Water Witch is Mark’s latest blend, a worthy complement to his Dead Horse and Long Haul blends from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. Named after Mark’s grandfather, a water locator in eastern Washington, it comes from Klipsun Vineyard, home of the biggest tannins around. Compared with the polished smooth fruit of the other blends, Water Witch presents a bigger bite and strong notes of caramel and anise. Like its compatriots, it has a core of dark, full fruit and is massive. We’d give the wine two or three years and then open it at a big holiday feast. All of Mark’s wines are $45 and we have small quantities available.

2005 Chatter Creek Clifton Vineyard Nebbiolo
As recent releases from Cavatappi, Lost River, and Wilridge have demonstrated, Washington shows great potential for becoming a second home to Nebbiolo, Piedmont’s signature grape. Now Woodinville winemaker Gordy Rawson weighs in with an elegant and aromatic Nebbiolo, sourced from vines planted in 1999 in the sustainably farmed Clifton Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. Since it comes from older vines, Gordy’s version is somewhat heartier than the popular Lost River Nebbiolo, but it preserves the violet nose and bright cherry fruit characteristic of the grape. The extended aging in oak gives it a velvety smoothness and spiciness that makes it a nice complement to everything from pork and poultry to steak and game. Ready to drink, it costs $38 and we can definitely get more.