2014 Waters Winery, Cappella, $45
Winery info: Jamie Brown has been crafting wines under his Waters label since 2003, and they have graced our shelves for just as long. With access to some of the top vineyards in the state, Jamie produces beautiful single-vineyard offerings as well as blends, “aimed at reflecting the unique character of each varietal and the qualities of the land that they come from.”
Winemaker: Jamie Brown
Grapes: 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot
Vineyard source: Cab Franc: from Old Stones Vineyard in the Rocks District of Milton Freewater (described below); Merlot: from Canoe Ridge, a warm site with sandy loam soils on a ridgeline above the Columbia River, in the Horse Heaven Hills.
Flavor profile: Beautifully balanced and full of flavors of dark fruit, earth, and white pepper. The Cab Franc gets its complex aromatics and forest floor notes from the Rocks, while the Canoe Ridge Merlot adds a lovely softness to this well-structured wine.
Production/Availability: 250 cases made. As the current release, it should be available for a while.
Drinkability: Enjoy now through about 2023.
Food Pairing: Rib eye, lamb, pork, or dishes with Portobello or seasonal mushrooms.
2017 Watermill Winery, “Hallowed Stones” Estate Syrah, $39.75
Winery info: Longtime farmers in the Walla Walla Valley, the Brown family planted their first vineyard in 2001 and established their winery in 2005 with the help of consulting winemaker Rich Funk, of Saviah Cellars. They added more vineyard holdings over the years, including some in the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater, from which this wine is sourced. While the site is in Oregon, it is part of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, so we stretched our boundaries a bit and put it in the Washington Club.
Winemaker: Andrew Brown
Grapes: 95% Syrah, co-fermented with 5% Viognier and aged in a combination of new and neutral medium toast French and American oak before bottling.
Vineyard source: Watermill Estate Vineyard in the Rocks District, hailed as one of the most distinctive AVAs in the country. Its basalt-based cobbled soils from an ancient riverbed are particularly suited to Rhône varietals, especially Syrah, producing wines with a signature minerality and savory funk.
Flavor profile: Incredibly velvety and smooth, with rich, dark red fruit flavors and hints of cured meat. It has great minerality and complexity and just the right touch of the earthy, smoky funk characteristic of Rocks District wines. All of these flavors linger on the long, bright finish.
Production/Availability: Only 150 cases made. The distributor has a small amount of this vintage left.
Drinkability: Delicious now, or over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: Savory foods, such as roast chicken, herb-crusted lamb, or wild mushroom risotto.