2009 Mackey Vineyards, RAC
One of Bear’s special joys in his work as managing partner of this shop was finding new and interesting wineries from Walla Walla. Every Thanksgiving, he would spend the weekend visiting Walla Walla winemakers, checking in with old friends and searching for new discoveries. Since we’ve taken over from him in 2006, we’ve had fewer opportunities to discover unknown wineries, although Corliss and Tero Estates have taken their place on our shelves among the other top Washington producers.
So it’s with special delight that we are able to introduce Mackey Vineyards to this club. In 2007, brothers Roger and Philip Mackey “said good bye to a conventional life in California,” in their words, and purchased a small farm in the southeastern corner of the Walla Walla Valley, in a deep canyon on the south fork of the Walla Walla River, with apple orchards and some gone-to-seed grape vines. The two virtues of the farm, from a grape-growing perspective, are a higher elevation, which keeps the frost away, and rock-strewn river soils, which force the vines to go deep to get their nourishment and thus pick up more nuance and character. While they are sourcing their Syrah and some Cabernet fruit from their own vineyards, this flagship Bordeaux blend is from some of the best vineyards in the state: Dionysus in the Columbia Valley, Kiona on Red Mountain, and the high altitude DuBrul Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The result is a sleek, elegant, food-oriented wine, full-bodied, with good acidity. Everything is in balance – dark fruit aromas, silky tannins, and the vanilla and espresso notes from 22 months in French oak (60% new). The wine will need a little time to fully flesh out, perhaps three to five years, and will continue to develop another five years beyond that. It’s a good value at $45, and in good supply.
2010 Flying Trout, Gamache Vineyard Malbec
While we are on the subject of relatively unknown Walla Walla wineries, we are equally delighted to put this fine Malbec from the wonderful Ashley Trout in our club. Ashley first started making wine when she moved to Walla Walla for college back in 1999. As far as we know, she is the only bi-hemispherical winemaker in Washington, as she spends February through May each year supervising the harvest of her wines in Argentina. In 2010, she merged her company with Doug Roskelley’s Tero Estates, establishing a joint production center in Milton Freewater with a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla. Given her experience with Argentinean wine, it’s not a surprise that she would also be interested in Washington Malbec. It’s also understandable that she would source Malbec from Gamache Vineyard, since Bob & Roger Gamache make a very nice estate Malbec under their own label. This wine is simply irresistible. It has nice bright cherry fruit, floral aromas, and a lively finish. Compared to most Washington Malbec, it’s more delicate, aromatic, and elegant, a wine that would go well with vegetables as well as the expected meat dishes. It is $37, drinking beautifully now, and pretty limited, as Ashley made only about 100 cases.