2016 Mark Ryan, Dead Horse, $58
Winery info: Mark Ryan McNeilly began making wine in 1999, working in various garages and warehouses before finally settling into Woodinville in 2003. He is now based in Woodinville’s Hollywood area. Mark’s goal from day one has been to make delicious, handcrafted wines that represent the vineyard from which they come and the character of the varietal.
Winemaker: Mark Ryan McNeilly and Mike MacMorran
Grapes: 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Vineyard source: Quintessence, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Obelisco, all on Red Mountain
Flavor profile: This is a rich, elegant wine, with dark fruit flavors and savory, earthy notes. The more mature vineyard sites (Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun) add texture and character, while the younger sites (their Quintessence plantings) contribute structure and vitality.
Production/Availability: 2,500 cases. This wine was just released so it should be available for a while.
Drinkability: While you could enjoy it soon with a good decanting, the classic Red Mountain tannins will continue to soften over the next few years. You could cellar this one for up to a decade.
Food Pairing: This wine is always a good match for a juicy steak, roast beef, or other robust fare.
2016 Elephant 7, Yellow Bird Grenache, $32
Winery info: The name for this winery was inspired by a group of musicians known as “Elephant 6,” who were dedicated to the craft of making meaningful, independent music, regardless of any commercial success. Elephant 7 is dedicated to making genuine, honest wines that reflect a distinct sense of place. Their focus is on Rhône varietals, sourced from premium vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley.
Winemaker: Josh West, who has worked at Figgins, Cadaretta, and Dusted Valley in Walla Walla, as well as at New Zealand’s Whitehaven Winery.
Grapes: 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, aged 17 months in neutral French oak.
Vineyard source: Yellow Bird Vineyard, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, in the Walla Walla Valley. The vineyard is dry farmed on deep loess soil.
Flavor profile: The high elevation of the vineyard (up to 1,450 feet) produces fruit with great depth and concentration. This Grenache-based wine is medium bodied, with aromas of wild herbs and flavors of dark fruit and spice. Very balanced and elegant, with a long, juicy finish.
Production/Availability: Only 88 cases were produced and it is already sold out at the winery. There are a few cases left with the distributor.
Drinkability: Anytime over the next five to six years.
Food Pairing: Enjoy with roasted lamb or gamey meats.