Washington Wine Club – October 2012

2007 Reininger, Pepper Bridge Vineyard Malbec
Walla Walla’s Chuck Reininger needs no introduction to West Cellar Cellars customers. Chuck was the first winemaker that Bear met on his inaugural visit to Walla Walla, and he remains one of the best. He describes this wine as “Mountain Man’s Malbec.” It is a powerful, dark fruit wine, full of huckleberry, blackberry, plum and cassis flavors, with the fine tannins characteristic of Malbec and a touch of minerals typical of Pepper Bridge fruit. Like his wonderful Carmenère, it is very limited, with only 245 cases produced. It would be perfect with grilled tender beef, and can easily age for another five years. It’s $44.50 and we do have some left after the club allocation.

2010 Syncline, Cuvée Elena
As most of our customers know, James and Poppie Mantone are two of our favorite people in the wine trade, and already, in their thirties, among the very best Washington winemakers. This gem, one of our favorite wines and a club perennial, is a delicious and carefully constructed southern Rhone style blend of their very best grapes and clearly their flagship wine. As with previous vintages, the grapes come from some very different viticultural areas. The Grenache, mostly sourced from Northridge Vineyard on the warm Wahluke Slope, delivers bright red fruit flavors while retaining good acidity. The Mourvedre, which comes, as usual, from Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the northern part of the Horse Heaven Hills, provides rich meatiness and spicy blackberry flavors. Firm tannins and structure are added by the grapes grown in the basalt soils of Ciel du Cheval and Heart of the Hill on Red Mountain. Additional fruit comes from McKinley Springs and Alder Ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills, warmer sites that help with balance and clarity. As 2010 was a cooler year, the wine has an unusually low proportion of Syrah, which needs a bit more heat to ripen fully. As usual, James and Poppie make the wine with the finesse they originally learned in the Oregon Pinot industry. All of the juice is free-run, fermented at relatively cool temperatures, and then put in 4-7 year old barrels to maintain its silky texture and rich mouth feel. As with other top wines from 2010, we recommend giving the Cuvée Elena another three to five years to fully develop in your cellar. It’s $39.75 and extremely limited this year.