2007 Côte Bonneville, DuBrul Vineyard Carriage House
Regular Washington Club members are undoubtedly familiar with this wine, as we have put both the 2005 and 2006 vintages in this club. Although DuBrul Vineyard was put on the map by single vineyard wines made by Owen Roe, the Côte Bonneville label is the personal project of the vineyard owners, Dr. Hugh and Kathy Shiels, who continue to do most of the cellar work themselves. The original winemaker was Stan Clarke, the founder of the Walla Walla Community College wine program and a true force in Washington wine. After Stan’s untimely death in November, 2007, there was definitely some concern about whether the high standards of the winery would be maintained. But we’re glad to report that the winemaking is now in the very capable hands of Kerry Shiels, Hugh and Kathy’s daughter and a pretty impressive force herself. Trained as an engineer, she worked for Fiat in Italy (learning Italian on the job) among other projects, until she came home to work with Stan and her family in the winery. The vineyard itself is one of the most impressive sites in Washington, towering 1375 feet over the Yakima Valley, and has a unique blend of exposed basalt rock mixed with sedimentary soils and volcanic ash. Unlike warmer areas, DuBrul Vineyard wines seem to retain marvelous acidity while producing intense, powerful wines. The 2007 edition is gorgeous and pretty ready to drink now, although it is clearly capable of aging five to ten years. It’s an elegant wine, with a core of cherry fruit, lots of spices, moderate tannins, and a very long finish. Try it with a nice pepper steak. It’s $49, and in good supply.
2007 Balboa Winery, Sayulita
To complement an elegant, high altitude wine from the Yakima Valley, we have selected a classic Walla Walla Valley powerhouse. This wine is made by Tom Glase, the winemaker at Beresan, who founded Balboa Winery to make inexpensive yet elegant and ready-to-drink Washington wines from up and coming new vineyards. Like his other reserve wine, Mith, the Sayulita is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, both sourced from the iconic Pepper Bridge Vineyard. It is aged for 18 months in neutral French oak barrels. Tom describes the wine as “bread pudding, slightly toasted coconut flakes, stone fruit with a touch of star fruit and black cherry on the finish.” It’s soft and pleasant with crisp tannins and would be a welcome guest at your next barbecue. The price is $39.75, and it’s still in decent supply.